Gravity Assist Podcast: Uranus and Neptune, with Amy Simon | 3/13/2018 | Staff
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The Gravity Assist Podcast is hosted by NASA's Director of Planetary Science, Jim Green, who each week talks to some of the greatest planetary scientists on the planet, giving a guided tour through the Solar System and beyond in the process. This week, he's joined by Amy Simon of the Goddard Space Flight Center to talk about not just one, but two planets of the Solar System: the ice giants Uranus and Neptune, as well as Neptune's moon Triton.

You can listen to the full podcast here, or read the transcript below.

Amy - Simon - Uranus - Neptune - System

Amy Simon: Uranus and Neptune are really unique in our Solar System. They're very different planets [than the other worlds in our Solar System]. Part of the reason we call them ice giants is because they actually [contain] a lot of water-ice. So, while [Jupiter and Saturn are] gas giant planets with mostly hydrogen and helium, the ice giants are predominately water and other ices.

Jim Green: How were they able to acquire that much ice?

Amy - Simon - Solar - System - Lot

Amy Simon: They formed much further out in the Solar System where there was a lot of ice available. They didn't quite form as big as Jupiter or Saturn, so they couldn't pull in quite as much gas. That's part of why we believe they're so different.

Jim Green: Some of the simulations of how our planets form seem to indicate that they formed closer to the Sun, and then through gravitational interactions, were pushed out. That includes Uranus and Neptune. Could they have acquired a lot of the Kuiper Belt objects as they were doing that?

Scientist - Amy - Simon - NASA - Goddard

Planetary scientist Amy Simon of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

Amy Simon: Absolutely. As a matter of fact, we think that a lot of Neptune's moons are captured Kuiper Belt objects.

Jim - Green - Yeah - Kind - Bit

Jim Green: Yeah, that kind of gives it away a little bit,...
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