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FIGURE 7.1 The giants planets—Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, and Jupiter—exhibit a diversity of properties and processes relevant to planetary science both in our local neighborhood of the solar system and in planetary systems discovered around nearby stars. SOURCE: NASA; available at http://www.astrophys-assist.com/educate/robot/page11.htm.

major element in understanding the question, How have the myriad chemical and physical processes that shaped the solar system operated, interacted, and evolved over time?

SCIENCE GOALS FOR THE STUDY OF GIANT PLANETS

Giant planets dominated the history of planetary evolution: the processes of their formation and migration sculpted the nascent solar system into the habitable environment of today. The materials that comprise the giant planets preserve the chemical signatures of the primitive nebular material from which the solar system formed. Understanding the interiors and atmospheres of these planets and their attendant moons, rings, and fields both gravitational and magnetic illuminates the properties and processes that occur throughout the solar system. A key



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