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a. A greenhouse gas is a gas, which absorbs the infrared radiation emitted out by a planet carrying energy away, but allows through the visible light carrying energy in from the Sun, such as carbon dioxide. (CO2, H2O, O3, CH4, CFCs).
b. Because the Sun has a surface temperature of about 5,800 Kelvin, it emits most of its energy as visible light. Because the Earth has a much lower average surface temperature of about 288 Kelvin, it emits most of its energy as infrared light. Greenhouse gasses are transparent to visible light, but partially block infrared light. Greenhouse gasses act like one-way valves, because they allow energy from the Sun to reach the surface as visible light, but they prevent energy from the planet from leaving as infrared radiation.
c. The distance from the sun affects the temperature of a planet because the closer a planet is to the sun the greater the temperature will be. The planets reflectivity affects the temperature because the more reflective a planet’s surface is the lower the amount of solar radiation that will be absorbed by the planet. The thicker the atmosphere the hotter the temperature of the planet will be because the more it locks in green house gasses, raising the temperature. The more pressure in the atmosphere the hotter the temperature of the planet. As seen in physics the more pressure that is exerted on an object the more the temperature will rise.
2) Cool Venus
a. Because Venus is completely covered with clouds, and reflects most of the sun's radiation back out into space. Without the greenhouse effect, Venus would be cooler than the Earth even though it is closer to the sun.
b. If Venus did not have Greenhouse gasses or clouds the temperature would be much lower than now. This high temperature is because of the thick atmosphere of clouds and greenhouse gasses, where if neither existed the temperature would drop drastically.
c. The reason for such thick and heavy clouds is directly related to the volcanic activity. The high volcanic activity leads to a higher concentration of clouds, and thus the heavier atmosphere. If the cloud atmosphere were to disappear than there would no longer be high volcanic activity in fact the most likely result from disappearance of clouds would be that the volcanoes on Venus had become dormant.
3) Mars Climate Evolution
a. So far, we do not yet have clear scientific evidence of organisms on Mars.
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b. Part of the reason that Mars no longer has an atmosphere is because there used to be volcanoes that would create clouds of gas that would trap gasses and chemicals within the atmosphere.
c. It is not likely that Mars will have a thicker and warmer atmosphere at some point in the future because there is no way that gasses can be trapped in order to create an atmosphere, and without an active core the volcanoes will not become un-dormant.
d. If Mars maintained the same level of volcanic eruption that Earth and Venus did I would expect the planet to be extremely hot and gaseous because of the heavy chemicals being trapped and in fact no longer be able to support life because the temperature would continually rise and create a toxic atmosphere with these heavy chemicals.
4) Earth and Venus Climate Evolution
a. Earth and Venus could be expected to have similar early atmospheres since they are about the same mass, size, and have a very similar composition. They are also neighboring planets.
b. Earth and Venus early on had similar atmospheres because Venus had not yet burned all of its’ atmosphere. Over billions of years, Venus developed a very dense CO2 heavy atmosphere, and is much stronger than that of Earth’s CO2 levels. Trees, Plants and algae helped to absorb the originally high levels of CO2 levels on Earth, keeping them much lower than Venus. Because of the intense heat on Venus the Water has all evaporated away and turned to vapor.