Planets Of Our Solar System Facts


Note: The list of planets of our solar system is organized by their increasing distance from the Sun.

Planet Mercury

Mercury is our solar system’s nearest planet to the Sun. It has a modest equatorial diameter of about 4880 kilometers (3032 miles). Mercury’s density is comparable to that of Earth, while its surface gravity is far lower. Scientists think Mercury originated about the same time as Earth, some 4.6 billion years ago.

Mercury has a very little atmosphere. As a result, Mercury experiences large temperature variations. During the day, the temperature in Mercury may reach 800.6 °F (427 °C). During the night, the temperature decreases to -280 °F (-173 °C).

Mercury revolves on its axis every 59 Earth days and completes one orbit around the Sun every 88 days (compared to 365 days for Earth). Mercury’s quick orbit around the Sun, along with its relatively slow rotation on its axis, makes one day on Mercury endure the equivalent of 176 Earth days.

planets of our solar system
  • The Surface of Mercury

Mercury is difficult to see from Earth because it is so near to the Sun. Unmanned space probes, such as the Mariner 10 and Messenger spacecraft, have been able to map out a portion of Mercury’s surface.

Mercury’s surface is extensively cratered as a result of items like meteorites striking it. Most meteors make it to Mercury’s surface despite the lack of an atmosphere. In reality, Mercury’s circumstances are strikingly similar to those of Earth’s moon.

The surface of Mercury differs from that of the Moon in that it features enormous cliffs called scarps. Scientists think that when the interior of Mercury cooled, the whole planet shrunk, resulting in the scarps. Scientists are now unsure if scarps exist on Mercury’s whole surface.

Mariner 10 discovered a modest magnetic field on Mercury, indicating that the planet may have an iron core.

There is some evidence of previous volcanic activity, but no current activity seems to exist.

Mercury does not have a moon.

You may also like this: What actually is a star

Venus

Venus is the second nearest planet to our Sun. Mercury is closest to our Sun, Venus is next, Earth is third, and Mars is fourth.

This implies that Venus, along with Earth and Mars, is one of three planets in our solar system that are believed to be in the habitable zone. Because of their distance from the Sun, it was assumed that the environments on Venus and Mars might sustain life in the same manner that they do on Earth.

Venus is about 67.2 million miles (108.2 million kilometers) from the Sun. In comparison, Earth is around 93 million miles (150 million km) from the Sun (Head, 2004).

Furthermore, Venus is almost the same size as Earth and has nearly the same density and surface gravity. Venus’s internal structure is assumed to be comparable to that of Earth. Earth and Venus, according to scientists, originated about the same period (4.6 billion years ago).

Unfortunately, circumstances on Venus are not comparable to those on Earth. The conditions on Venus are much too hot for beings like us.

Venus has a thick atmosphere of sulfuric acid clouds. The main component of battery acid is sulfuric acid. On Venus, lightning is often linked with these clouds.

On Venus, dense sulfuric acid clouds and greenhouse gases prevent heat from escaping, resulting in a highly hot climate. In reality, the surface temperature of Venus exceeds 800 degrees Fahrenheit (427 degrees Celsius).

Scientists are having difficulty seeing the surface of Venus due to the heavy clouds. Previously, two Soviet robotic spacecraft landed on the surface of Venus, but they only survived about an hour in the severe climate before being destroyed.

The NASA Magellan spacecraft, on the other hand, was able to map out the planet’s surface in considerable detail.

Venus has a lot of volcanic activity, and the surface contains a lot of lava rilles (canyons or ditches caused by flowing lava). There are several impact craters on Venus’ surface, although not many. There may not be many impact craters on Venus for two reasons:

Because of the dense atmosphere, little meteors burn up on their way in.
Recent lava flows have removed the majority of impact craters from the surface.
The majority of the terrain is arid, flat, and rocky.

The majority of Venus’s volcanoes are shield volcanoes. These volcanoes develop when hot lava rises through the planet’s crust and is not related to tectonic plate boundaries. The existence of lava domes, as depicted in the black and white shot, implies that the planet has a high silica content.

Scientists are unsure if Venus is now experiencing volcanic activity.

The atmosphere of Venus is mostly composed of carbon dioxide (approximately 97%) and a trace of nitrogen gas. Other gases are present in tiny concentrations as well (e.g., argon, water vapor, oxygen, carbon monoxide). As previously stated, the clouds on Venus are composed of sulfuric acid and some sulfur dioxide.

Furthermore, the atmospheric pressure on Venus is about 90 times higher than on Earth.

Scientists think that millions of years ago, the atmospheres of Earth and Venus were similar, but the atmospheres of the planets developed differently.

For example, on Earth, the majority of carbon dioxide is dissolved in our seas, with the remainder combining with other molecules. If this had not occurred, Earth would most likely be an oven like Venus. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that traps solar energy and heat.

Oceans may not have formed on Venus as they did on Earth since Venus is closer to the Sun. Because there were no seas on Venus to dilute the majority of the carbon dioxide, it stayed in the atmosphere.

There is no indication of significant volumes of water on Venus, either currently or in the past. Any water there would evaporate due to the extraordinarily high temperatures, but there doesn’t seem to be much water vapor on Venus either.

The duration of a day on Venus differs greatly from that on Earth. One entire revolution of Venus on its axis takes 243 days.

Venus lacks both a magnetic field and a moon.

Planet Earth

When seen from space, there is no other planet in our Solar System that is more gorgeous than Earth.

The diameter of the Earth is 12,800 km, and its mass is 6.0 x 1024 kg. It is our sun’s third planet.

The Earth is believed to be 4.6 billion years old based on evidence collected via radioactive dating.

Earth is a terrestrial planet, which implies it is composed of rock rather than gaseous components. The Earth’s structure is separated into four major components. The crust refers to the Earth’s surface. The oceans, which cover 70% of the Earth’s surface, are referred to as the hydrosphere. The hydrosphere of Earth is readily visible from orbit and adds to the beauty of the globe when seen from space (and here on Earth!).

The mantle is located under the Earth’s crust and hydrosphere. The Earth’s core is located under the mantle.

The atmosphere exists above the Earth’s surface, while the magnetosphere exists at extremely high elevations, trapped by the Earth’s magnetic field.

Earth is obviously unique in that it is the only planet known to host life. It is also the only planet in our solar system with an abundance of liquid water, temperate temperatures, and a 21% oxygen atmosphere.

The Earth’s atmosphere keeps temperature fluctuations to a minimum. Our atmosphere and magnetosphere also shield us from solar radiation and falling near-Earth objects. Near Earth, objects are asteroids or meteoroids that often burn up during their fall through Earth’s oxygen atmosphere and hence do not make it all the way to the Earth’s surface.

Earth is a wonderful world teeming with life, and we should do more to protect it.

Why is there life on Earth but not somewhere else? Most scientists think that the existence of water is required for life to exist. Furthermore, the temperature range on Earth is ideal. If Earth were closer to the Sun or farther away from it, it would be either too hot or too cold to sustain life. The Earth is 150 million kilometers (93 million miles) from the sun (Dutch, 2004). As it turns out, the temperature conditions on Earth are ideal for a wide range of living forms. This is due not just to our position in relation to the sun, but also to the ideal thickness of our atmosphere. Earth may be too hot to sustain life if our atmosphere was considerably thicker, but it might be too cold if our atmosphere was much thinner.

  • Orbit and Rotation of the Earth

The Earth revolves on its axis once every 24 hours (counterclockwise). The Earth also circles the sun counterclockwise. One full circle around the sun takes the Earth around 365 days. As you can see, our time traditions are based on the rotation and orbit of the Earth.

Mars

Mars is little more than half the size of Earth, with an equator diameter of 6788 km (4218 miles). Mars has two tiny moons orbiting it, Phobos and Deimos.

Scientists think Mars is around the same age as Earth (4.6 billion years old). The duration of a day on Mars is comparable to that of Earth. Every 24 hours and 40 minutes, Mars completes one full spin on its axis.

Mars is the fourth planet in the solar system. It, like Earth, is a terrestrial planet. In fact, Mars has the most similar climate to Earth of any planet in our solar system. However, Mars is not the oasis that Earth is.

Mars, like Earth, has changeable seasons and a thin atmosphere containing 0.13% oxygen. Because the Earth’s atmosphere contains 21% oxygen, humans would perish on Mars unless we carried more oxygen with us to breathe.

Mars’ weak atmosphere may produce clouds and wind. In truth, Mars has very powerful winds that often cause massive dust storms.

Mars Pathfinder captured this photograph of the stratus clouds on Mars. The clouds are made up of water ice and surface red dust particles, which give the clouds their pink appearance.

Scientists think that the atmosphere on Mars was once considerably thicker than it is today, but that it was lost owing to a variety of circumstances (e.g., asteroid impacts).

  • The Mars Surface

Scientists have learned a lot about the surface of Mars thanks to robotic probes that have been deployed there. Mars seems to be a dry, dusty planet. The soil has a high concentration of iron, which accounts for the reddish hue of the surface.

Large volcanoes and mountains can be found on Mars. Scientists are unsure whether the Martian volcanoes are still active. No indication of recent volcanic activity has been found, although it is possible that there is a long period of time between eruptions and we have just not witnessed one yet.

There are also countless impact craters on Mars’ surface. Most meteoroids and asteroids do not disintegrate on their route to the surface as they do on Earth because of its thin atmosphere. As shown in the shot, there are many lava rocks on the surface.

The iron sulfide core of Mars is thought to exist.

  • Evidence of Water Flow on Mars

Scientists think Mars formerly had flowing water on its surface, but there doesn’t seem to be any liquid water there today. Mars has water ice at its polar caps, but the temperature at the poles is too low for the ice to melt. The daytime temperature at Mars’s equator is just over 60 °F (16°C), however, there is no ice or water at the equator, and the nighttime temperature is much below -200 °F (-129 °C). Dry ice may also be found in the polar caps (frozen carbon dioxide).

Water flowed on Mars in the not-too-distant past, according to scientists. There is evidence that water flowed on Mars within the previous ten years. Scientists have also discovered evidence of dried-up river beds, lakes, and seas on Mars’ surface. There is also evidence that massive surface flooding happened at some time in the past.

If there was once all of this water on Mars, where is it now?

Scientists think that water lies frozen under Mars’ surface and at its poles. Scientists discovered vast volumes of water ice under the surface. Scientists think this occurred when Mars lost much of its atmosphere and the temperature dropped significantly, forcing water on Mars to either freeze or evaporate. Scientists estimate that if all of the water ice on Mars melted, it would flood the whole planet.

  • Proof of Life on Mars

Scientists have researched whether or if life exists on Mars today or in the past since the climate on Mars is not too harsh or hostile, it contains an atmosphere, indications of water, and other components that imply Mars may sustain life. To date, no definitive proof of life on Mars has been discovered.

Jupiter

Jupiter, with a diameter of 143,000 kilometers, is the biggest planet in our solar system (88,700 miles). In contrast, the diameter of the Earth is 12,800 km. Jupiter also has 318 times the mass of Earth and about 2.5 times the surface gravity.

Jupiter’s axis spins incredibly swiftly. The planet rotates once every 9 hours, 55 minutes, and 30 seconds (Maran, 2005).

Jupiter is our solar system’s fifth most distant planet from the Sun. It is 778.3 million kilometers (484 million miles) from the Sun. In contrast, Earth is just 149.6 million kilometers away from the Sun. In comparison to Earth’s 365-day orbit, Jupiter takes 4,333 Earth days to complete one full circuit around the sun (Gierasch and Nicholson, 2004).

Jupiter has 61 moons around it (Chaisson and McMillan, 2005). The top image, captured by Voyager 1, depicts Jupiter and its four biggest moons. Ganymede, Callisto, Io, and Europa are the four moons, from biggest to smallest. Scientists are often more interested in Jupiter’s four big moons than in Jupiter itself. Galileo discovered all four of these moons in 1610.

  • The Composition and Atmosphere of Jupiter

Jupiter is thought to consist mostly of hydrogen and helium, with trace quantities of water vapor, ammonia, methane, and a few other gases. It is also hypothesized that sulfur and phosphorus are present.

Jupiter, unlike Earth, is not a terrestrial planet. Instead, Jupiter is largely made up of gas and liquid, and it lacks a solid surface.

Jupiter’s clouds are what we see when we look at it. These clouds feature parts that are darker and lighter. Scientists refer to the darker parts as belts, while the lighter portions are referred to as zones.

Jupiter’s clouds are divided into three levels. The clouds in the outermost layer are made of ammonia ice, the clouds in the intermediate layer are made of ammonium hydrosulfide, and the clouds in the innermost layer are made of water vapor (Chaisson and McMillan, 2005). Jupiter’s clouds are often related to lightning.

  • The Red Spot on Jupiter

Voyager 2 captured the image of Jupiter’s big red spot. Scientists think the red spot represents a gigantic hurricane-force storm on Jupiter that has lasted more than 300 years. Except for the very center, where everything is quite calm, the gases in the red patch whirl counterclockwise in the storm.

All of our solar system’s gas planets have rings like Saturn, although Jupiter’s rings are not as beautiful as Saturn’s. The rings of Jupiter are made up of tiny gravel-sized pebbles to big boulders. Smaller dust particles encircle the rings.

At present moment, scientists have not been able to see Jupiter’s surface or interior. Scientists think Jupiter might have a rocky core surrounded by a coating of liquid metallic hydrogen. This metallic hydrogen layer is bordered by a nonmetallic or molecular hydrogen layer, which is surrounded by gaseous clouds.

Jupiter has a very powerful magnetic field as well.

Saturn

Saturn is regarded as one of the most fascinating and attractive planets in our solar system due to its rings.

Saturn, like Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune, is the sixth planet from our Sun and a gas planet. Saturn is almost the same size as Jupiter, but somewhat smaller. Despite its massive size, Saturn’s density is very low – much lower than the density of water. Saturn, in reality, would float if placed in a big enough pool of water.

Saturn takes 29.6 Earth years to complete one orbit around the Sun and rotates on its axis every 10 hours and 39 minutes, which is substantially quicker than Earth’s 24 hour rotation (Spinrad, 2004).

  • The Moons of Saturn

Saturn has 31 moons, four of which may be seen in the picture of Saturn as extremely tiny objects. Tethys, Dione, and Rhea are the three moons that look lighter against the black backdrop of space. Saturn’s tiny moon Mimas may be seen as a little black speck against the planet’s backdrop.

Titan is one of Saturn’s most intriguing moons. Scientists are interested in Titan because they think it possesses a hydrocarbon atmosphere and substantial volumes of frozen water ice on its surface. The existence of water is regarded to be a crucial component of life, which makes this intriguing. When looking for circumstances that may sustain life, scientists check for the existence of carbon-containing molecules. See also the article Is Life Possible on Other Planets?

  • The Atmosphere and Internal Structure of Saturn

Saturn’s atmosphere, like Jupiter’s, is primarily hydrogen and helium with a few additional trace gases. However, Saturn’s atmosphere has much less helium than Jupiter’s.

The clouds on Saturn are divided into three levels. The outside layer is made of ammonia ice, the middle layer is made of ammonium hydrosulfide, and the inside layer is made of water ice. This is similar to Jupiter’s cloud layers; however, Saturn’s cloud layers are far thicker than Jupiter’s (Chaisson and McMillan, 2005).

Saturn, like Jupiter, emits more heat than it receives from the Sun.

Saturn is assumed to have a rocky core surrounded by molecular hydrogen and a gaseous atmosphere. Saturn’s magnetic field is greater than Earth’s but weaker than Jupiter’s.

  • The Rings of Saturn

There are two explanations for Saturn’s rings. One explanation is that the rings are made up of fragments of moons that were torn off when they were impacted by space junk like as asteroids or meteors.

The alternative explanation is that the rings are made of material created by moons or other massive objects that were destroyed when they got too close to the planet due to the planet’s tidal force. According to the idea, the tidal force is larger than the forces keeping the moon together. This implies that if a moon gets too near to the planet, it will shatter into parts, which will then circle the planet (Chaisson and McMillan, 2005).

It is also conceivable that the material that makes up Saturn’s rings never became a moon at all, but instead stayed as rock and ice particles in orbit around Saturn, maybe as leftover particles from when Saturn formed (Chaisson and McMillan, 2005).

It’s worth noting that all of the gas planets (Jupiter, Neptune, and Uranus) have rings, albeit not to the level that Saturn does.

Despite their enormous size, the rings are quite thin. They are made up of ice-covered stone particles or ice balls. These two particle kinds both reflect sunlight. The size of these particles ranges from extremely microscopic to enormous boulder-sized pebbles. The rings are named after letters of the alphabet, beginning with A and progressing through the alphabet.

The rings are named E, G, F, A, B, C, and D, starting with the outer border (furthest from the planet).

As the names of the rings indicate, they were found in no particular sequence in relation to the planet.

Saturn also features a number of massive storms. When these storms erupt, they appear as white dots on the planet’s surface.

Uranus

Uranus is the seventh-farthest planet from our Sun, with a distance of 2875 million kilometers (1787 million miles).

With an equatorial diameter of 51,120 kilometers, it is close in size and composition to the planet Neptune (31,770 million miles).

Uranus takes 84 Earth years to complete one orbit around the sun and 17.2 hours to complete one spin on its axis (Chaisson and McMillan, 2005).

Because Uranus is so far away from Earth, seeing it with the naked eye is difficult, but not impossible. It may be seen via a telescope as a tiny blue-green disk, although surface details are difficult to discern.

Uranus looks blue-green to us due to the presence of methane in its atmosphere. Methane absorbs red light and reflects blue light.

Uranus’ atmosphere, like Jupiter’s, is primarily hydrogen and helium, with minor quantities of methane. The more methane there is on the globe, the bluer it seems. Uranus’ methane content is just approximately 2%, which explains why the planet looks blue-green rather than blue.

Uranus, unlike the other planets, seems to lack an internal heat source. Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune, the other gas planets in our solar system, create more heat than they absorb from the Sun.

Uranus is slanted to one side. Scientists don’t know why Uranus is tilted 98 degrees on its axis, but they suspect Uranus may have collided with a very huge object at some time. Except for its peculiar tilt, there is no other evidence that Uranus was struck by a planet-sized object.

Uranus has 27 moons and a much more powerful magnetosphere than Earth.

Uranus has rings, although they aren’t as spectacular as Saturn’s. In reality, all of the gas planets have rings around them, but none of them are as spectacular as Saturn’s. Uranus has nine rings, although they are darker and less reflective than Saturn’s rings.

Scientists don’t know as much about Uranus’ interior structure as they do about other planets, but they assume it has a rocky core covered by water, which is surrounded by molecular hydrogen.

REFERENCES

Chaisson, E. and McMillan, S. (2005). Astronomy Today. Pearson Prentice Hall: Upper Saddle River, NJ.

Neptune

Neptune is the eighth planet from the Sun in our solar system. Indeed, it is so far away that we can’t see it without a telescope. Neptune appears as a tiny blue disk via a telescope.

Neptune is about 4504.4 million kilometers (2799 million miles) from the Sun. Uranus, the next closest planet inward from Neptune, is 2875 million kilometers (1787 million miles) from the Sun (Moche, 2004).

Neptune orbits the Sun every 164.79 Earth years and rotates once on its axis in 16.1 hours.

Neptune is just somewhat larger than Uranus. The equatorial diameter of Neptune is 49,530 km (30,780 miles), whereas Uranus is 51,120 km (31,770 million miles). Neptune has a greater density than Uranus and all of the other gas planets (Jupiter and Saturn) in our solar system.

Neptune’s atmosphere is comparable to those of the other gas planets. The atmosphere of Neptune is made up of 84% hydrogen, 14% helium, and 3% methane (Chaisson and McMillan, 2005). Neptune’s blue tint is caused by the abundance of methane. Methane absorbs red wavelengths while reflecting blue wavelengths. Neptune looks bluer in hue than Uranus because it has a little greater percentage of methane (2%). (Chaisson and McMillan, 2005).

Furthermore, although Jupiter and Saturn have significant amounts of ammonia, Neptune and Uranus either do not contain ammonia or have extremely low concentrations.

  • The Dark Spot of Neptune

Neptune’s surface contains a black area that can be seen in both photos of the planet Neptune. Scientists assume that this is a massive storm (the size of a planet) akin to Jupiter’s red spot. The storm’s movement is counterclockwise and was found in 1989 by the Voyager 2 mission.

When the Hubble telescope looked at Neptune approximately a decade later, the black area vanished, suggesting that the storm had passed. The red area on Jupiter, on the other hand, represents a storm that has been raging for hundreds of years. In the mid-1990s, the Hubble Space Telescope discovered evidence of fresh storms on Neptune. Neptune’s atmosphere seems to be highly tumultuous, with fast-shifting weather conditions. Winds on Neptune often approach 932 mph (1500 km/h).

Neptune’s clouds are mostly made up of frozen methane.

  • The Rings of Neptune

Neptune, like other gas planets, has a ring system. Neptune’s ring system resembles Uranus’, having black rings that do not reflect light well. Voyager 2 captured this view of Neptune’s rings in 1989.

  • The Moons of Neptune

Triton is the biggest of Neptune’s 13 moons. Triton is an interesting moon since it orbits in reverse. Most satellites circle their planets in a prograde orbit, which means the moon rotates around its planet from West to East. The reverse is retrograde, which implies the moon moves from east to west.

  • The Internal Structure of Neptune

Scientists believe Neptune is made up of a rocky core surrounded by an ocean. Molecular hydrogen surrounds this layer. Uranus’ composition, according to scientists, is remarkably similar to that of Neptune. Neptune has a high magnetic field as well.

Neptune, like Jupiter and Saturn, emits more heat internally than it takes from the Sun, unlike Uranus.

Pluto

Pluto is our solar system’s tiniest and most distant planet from the Sun (5915.8 million km or 3676 million miles). Neptune is the closest planet to Pluto, at 4504 million kilometers from the Sun.

Pluto is often compared to a moon rather than a planet. Pluto, as seen in the photograph, is even smaller than Earth’s moon. Scientists were contemplating demoting Pluto from planet status due to its tiny size and other qualities that seem to be unlike most of the other planets in our solar system. However, Pluto is still regarded as one of our solar system’s nine planets but has been demoted to the rank of dwarf planet.

Pluto is still classed as a planet in part because it has its own moons. Charon, the biggest of them, was found in 1978 and has a diameter of 737 miles (Pluto was discovered in 1930). Astronomers think Charon formed when a massive planet-sized object collided with Pluto, knocking a substantial portion of it into space.

Two additional moons were identified in orbit around Pluto in 2005. These moons were given the names Nix and Hydra. These two moons are far smaller than Charon.

Pluto is also classified as a planet by scientists since it is spherical like a planet. The majority of asteroids and other space objects have irregular shapes.

  • Pluto for a Day

A day on Pluto lasts a long time in comparison to Earth; Pluto completes one complete revolution on its axis every 6.9 Earth days. Every 248 Earth years, it completes one orbit around the Sun.

Pluto is chilly due to its distance from the Sun, with a surface temperature of around -375 °F (-225 °C) (Spinrad, 2004).

Astronomers know relatively little about Pluto since it is so far away from Earth. When scientists can’t conduct direct measurements, they may frequently deduce the qualities of faraway planets by examining how other space objects around them behave.

Pluto, astronomers think, is an icy planet coated in frozen methane gas. Pluto’s atmosphere is supposed to be largely made up of methane (Spinrad, 2004).

The NASA New Horizons mission is scheduled to arrive at Pluto in 2015, at which point scientists will know much more about the planet than they do today.

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