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che Sun is the most prominent feature in our solar system.

It is the largest object and contains

approximately 98% of the total solar system mass. One hundred and nine Earths would be required to fit
across the Sun's disk, and its interior could hold over 1.3 million Earths. The Sun's outer visible layer is
called the photosphere and has a temperature of 6,000°C (11,000°F). This layer has a mottled
appearance due to the turbulent eruptions of energy at the surface.

The Sun appears to have been active for 4.6 billion years and has enough fuel to go on for
another five billion years or so. At the end of its life, the Sun will start to fuse helium into heavier
elements and begin to swell up, ultimately growing so large that it will swallow the Earth. After a billion
years as a red giant, it will suddenly collapse into a white dwarf -- the final end product of a star like
ours. It may take a trillion years to cool off completely.





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ãercury was named by the Romans after the fleet-footed messenger of the gods because it seemed to
move more quickly than any other planet. It is the closest planet to the Sun, and second smallest planet
in the solar system. Its diameter is 40% smaller than Earth and 40% larger than the ãoon. It is even
smaller than Jupiter's moon Ganymede and Saturn's moon Titan.
ãercury could not support water in any form. It has very little atmosphere and is blazing hot during the
day, but in 1991 scientists at Caltech bounced radio waves off ãercury and found an unusual bright
return from the north pole. The apparent brightening at the north pole could be explained by ice on or
just under the surface. But is it possible for ãercury to have ice? Because ãercury's rotation is almost
perpendicular to its orbital plain, the north pole always sees the sun just above the horizon. The insides
of craters would never be exposed to the Sun and scientists suspect that they would remain colder than
-161 C. These freezing temperatures could trap water outgassed from the planet, or ices brought to the
planet from cometary impacts. These ice deposits might be covered with a layer of dust and would still
show bright radar returns.

ãercury Statistics

ãass (kg)3.303e+23

ãass (Earth = 1)5.5271e-02

Equatorial radius (km)2,439.7

Equatorial radius (Earth = 1)3.8252e-01

ãean density (gm/cm^3)5.42

ãean distance from the Sun (km)57,910,000

ãean distance from the Sun (Earth = 1)0.3871

Rotational period (days)58.6462

Orbital period (days)87.969

ãean orbital velocity (km/sec)47.88

Orbital eccentricity0.2056

Tilt of axis (degrees)0.00

Orbital inclination (degrees)7.004

Equatorial surface gravity (m/sec^2)2.78

Equatorial escape velocity (km/sec)4.25

Visual geometric albedo0.10

ãagnitude (Vo)-1.9

ãean surface temperature179°C

ãaximum surface temperature427°C

ãinimum surface temperature-173°C

Venus, the     
, was once know by ancient astronomers as
the    and    . Early astronomers once thought Venus to be two separate bodies.
Venus, which is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty, is veiled by thick swirling cloud
cover. Astronomers refer to Venus as Earth's sister planet. Both are similar in size, mass, density and
volume. Both formed about the same time and condensed out of the same nebula. Venus is scorched
with a surface temperature of about 482° C (900° F). This high temperature is primarily due to a
runaway greenhouse effect caused by the heavy atmosphere of carbon dioxide. Sunlight passes through
the atmosphere to heat the surface of the planet. Heat is radiated out, but is trapped by the dense
atmosphere and not allowed to escape into space. This makes Venus hotter than ãercury.

Venus Statistics

ãass (kg)4.869e+24

ãass (Earth = 1).81476

Equatorial radius (km)6,051.8

Equatorial radius (Earth = 1).94886

ãean density (gm/cm^3)5.25

ãean distance from the Sun (km)108,200,000

ãean distance from the Sun (Earth = 1)0.7233

Rotational period (days)-243.0187

Orbital period (days)224.701

ãean orbital velocity (km/sec)35.02

Orbital eccentricity0.0068

Tilt of axis (degrees)177.36

Orbital inclination (degrees)3.394

Equatorial surface gravity (m/sec^2)8.87

Equatorial escape velocity (km/sec)10.36

Visual geometric albedo0.65

ãagnitude (Vo)-4.4

ãean surface temperature482°C

Atmospheric pressure (bars)92


Earth is the 3rd planet from the Sun at a distance of about 150
million kilometers (93.2 million miles). It takes 365.256 days for the Earth to travel around the Sun and
23.9345 hours for the Earth rotate a complete revolution. It has a diameter of 12,756 kilometers (7,973
miles), only a few hundred kilometers larger than that of Venus. Our atmosphere is composed of 78
percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen and 1 percent other constituents.

Besides affecting Earth's weather, solar activity gives rise to a dramatic

visual phenomenon in our atmosphere. When charged particles from the solar wind become trapped in
Earth's magnetic field, they collide with air molecules above our planet's magnetic poles. These air
molecules then begin to glow and are known as the auroras or the northern and southern lights.

Earth Statistics

ãass (kg)5.976e+24

ãass (Earth = 1)1.0000e+00

Equatorial radius (km)6,378.14

Equatorial radius (Earth = 1)1.0000e+00

ãean density (gm/cm^3)5.515

ãean distance from the Sun (km)149,600,000

ãean distance from the Sun (Earth = 1)1.0000

Rotational period (days)0.99727

Rotational period (hours)23.9345

Orbital period (days)365.256

ãean orbital velocity (km/sec)29.79

Orbital eccentricity0.0167

Tilt of axis (degrees)23.45

Orbital inclination (degrees)0.000

Equatorial escape velocity (km/sec)11.18

Equatorial surface gravity (m/sec^2)9.78

Visual geometric albedo0.37

ãean surface temperature15°C

Atmospheric pressure (bars)1u013


ãars is the fourth planet from the Sun and is commonly

referred to as the Red Planet. The rocks, soil and sky have a red or pink hue. The distinct red color was
observed by stargazers throughout history. It was given its name by the Romans in honor of their god of
war. Other civilizations have had similar names. The ancient Egyptians named the planet    

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ãars Statistics

ãass (kg)6.421e+23

ãass (Earth = 1)1.0745e-01

Equatorial radius (km)3,397.2

Equatorial radius (Earth = 1)5.3264e-01

ãean density (gm/cm^3)3.94

ãean distance from the Sun (km)227,940,000

ãean distance from the Sun (Earth = 1)1.5237

Rotational period (hours)24.6229

Rotational period (days)1.025957

Orbital period (days)686.98

ãean orbital velocity (km/sec)24.13

Orbital eccentricity0.0934

Tilt of axis (degrees)25.19

Orbital inclination (degrees)1.850

Equatorial surface gravity (m/sec^2)3.72

Equatorial escape velocity (km/sec)5.02

Visual geometric albedo0.15

ãagnitude (Vo)-2.01

ãinimum surface temperature-140°C

ãean surface temperature-63°C

ãaximum surface temperature20°C

Atmospheric pressure (bars)0.007


Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and is the largest planet in the solar system. If Jupiter were
hollow, more than one thousand Earths could fit inside. It also contains two and a half times the mass of
all the other planets combined. It has a mass of 1.9 x 1027 kg and is 142,800 kilometers (88,736 miles)
across the equator. Jupiter possesses 62 known satellites. The four largest are Callisto, Europa,
Ganymede and Io, and were named after Galileo Galilei who observed them as long ago as 1610. The
German astronomer Simon ãarius claimed to have seen the moons around the same time, but he did
not publish his observations and so Galileo is given the credit for their discovery.

Jupiter has a very faint ring system, but is totally invisible from the Earth. (The
rings were discovered in 1979 by Voyager 1.) The atmosphere is very deep, perhaps comprising the
whole planet, and is somewhat like the Sun. It is composed mainly of hydrogen and helium, with small
amounts of methane, ammonia, water vapor and other compounds. At great depths within Jupiter, the
pressure is so great that the hydrogen atoms are broken up and the electrons are freed so that the
resulting atoms consist of bare protons. This produces a state in which the hydrogen becomes metallic.

Jupiter Statistics

ãass (kg)1.900e+27

ãass (Earth = 1)3.1794e+02

Equatorial radius (km)71,492

Equatorial radius (Earth = 1)1.1209e+01

ãean density (gm/cm^3)1.33

ãean distance from the Sun (km)778,330,000

ãean distance from the Sun (Earth = 1)5.2028

Rotational period (days)0.41354

Orbital period (days)4332.71

ãean orbital velocity (km/sec)13.07

Orbital eccentricity0.0483

Tilt of axis (degrees)3.13

Orbital inclination (degrees)1.308

Equatorial surface gravity (m/sec^2)22.88

Equatorial escape velocity (km/sec)59.56

Visual geometric albedo0.52

ãagnitude (Vo)-2.70

ãean cloud temperature-121°C

Atmospheric pressure (bars)0.7


Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and is the second largest in the solar system with an equatorial
diameter of 119,300 kilometers (74,130 miles). ãuch of what is known about the planet is due to the
Voyager explorations in 1980-81. Saturn is visibly flattened at the poles, a result of the very fast rotation
of the planet on its axis. Its day is 10 hours, 39 minutes long, and it takes 29.5 Earth years to revolve
about the Sun. The atmosphere is primarily composed of hydrogen with small amounts of helium and
methane. Saturn is the only planet less dense than water (about 30 percent less). In the unlikely event
that a large enough ocean could be found, Saturn would float in it. Saturn's hazy yellow hue is marked
by broad atmospheric banding similar to, but fainter than, that found on Jupiter.






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ranus is the seventh planet from the Sun and is the third largest in the solar system. It
was discovered by William Herschel in 1781. It has an equatorial diameter of 51,800 kilometers (32,190
miles) and orbits the Sun once every 84.01 Earth years. It has a mean distance from the Sun of 2.87
billion kilometers (1.78 billion miles). It rotates about its axis once every 17 hours 14 minutes. ranus
has at least 22 moons. The two largest moons, Titania and Oberon, were discovered by William Herschel
in 1787.

The atmosphere of ranus is composed of 83% hydrogen, 15% helium, 2% methane and
small amounts of acetylene and other hydrocarbons. ãethane in the upper atmosphere absorbs red
light, giving ranus its blue-green color.

ranus Statistics

Discovered byWilliam Herschel

Date of discovery1781

ãass (kg)8.686e+25

ãass (Earth = 1)1.4535e+01

Equatorial radius (km)25,559

Equatorial radius (Earth = 1)4.0074

ãean density (gm/cm^3)1.29

ãean distance from the Sun (km)2,870,990,000

ãean distance from the Sun (Earth = 1)19.1914

Rotational period (hours)-17.9

Orbital period (years)84.01

ãean orbital velocity (km/sec)6.81

Orbital eccentricity0.0461

Tilt of axis (degrees)97.86

Orbital inclination (degrees)0.774

Equatorial surface gravity (m/sec^2)7.77

Equatorial escape velocity (km/sec)21.30

Visual geometric albedo0.51

ãagnitude (Vo)5.52

ãean cloud temperature-193°C

Atmospheric pressure (bars)1.2


Neptune is the outermost planet of the gas giants. It has an equatorial

diameter of 49,500 kilometers (30,760 miles). If Neptune were hollow, it could contain nearly 60 Earths.
Neptune orbits the Sun every 165 years. It has eight moons, six of which were found by Voyager. A day
on Neptune is 16 hours and 6.7 minutes. Neptune was discovered on September 23, 1846 by Johann
Gottfried Galle, of the Berlin Observatory, and Louis d'Arrest, an astronomy student, through
mathematical predictions made by rbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier.

Neptune is a dynamic planet with several large, dark spots reminiscent of Jupiter's
hurricane-like storms. The largest spot, known as the ·     , is about the size of the earth and
is similar to the ·     on Jupiter. Voyager revealed a small, irregularly shaped, eastward-
moving cloud  
 around Neptune every 16 hours or so. This    as it has been dubbed could
be a plume rising above a deeper cloud deck.

Neptune Statistics

Discovered byJohann Gotfried Galle

Date of discoverySeptember 23, 1846

ãass (kg)1.024e+26

ãass (Earth = 1)1.7135e+01

Equatorial radius (km)24,746

Equatorial radius (Earth = 1)3.8799e+00

ãean density (gm/cm^3)1.64

ãean distance from the Sun (km)4,504,300,000

ãean distance from the Sun (Earth = 1)30.0611

Rotational period (hours)16.11

Orbital period (years)164.79

ãean orbital velocity (km/sec)5.45

Orbital eccentricity0.0097

Tilt of axis (degrees)29.56

Orbital inclination (degrees)1.774

Equatorial surface gravity (m/sec^2)11.0

Equatorial escape velocity (km/sec)23.50

Visual geometric albedo0.41

ãagnitude (Vo)7.84

ãean cloud temperature-193 to -153°C

Atmospheric pressure (bars)1-3


Although Pluto was discovered in 1930, limited information on the distant

object delayed a realistic understanding of its characteristics. Pluto is the second largest known dwarf
planet and tenth largest orbiting the Sun. From its time of discovery in 1930 to 2006 it was considered to
be the ninth planet in the solar system, but because additional objects have been discovered including
Eris which is 27% more massive, the IA reclassified Pluto and the other objects as dwarf planets. The
New Horizons spacecraft was launched on January 16, 2006 and will make its closest approach to Pluto
on July 14, 2015. This mission will provide an increased amount of information about this peculiar dwarf
planet. The uniqueness of Pluto's orbit, rotational relationship with its satellite, spin axis, and light
variations all give it a certain appeal.
Pluto is usually farther from the Sun than any of the eight planets; however, due to the eccentricity of its
orbit, it is closer than Neptune for 20 years out of its 249 year orbit. Pluto crossed Neptune's orbit
January 21, 1979, made its closest approach September 5, 1989, and remained within the orbit of
Neptune until February 11, 1999. This will not occur again until September 2226.

Pluto Statistics

Discovered byClyde W. Tombaugh

Date of discoveryFebruary 18, 1930

ãass (kg)1.27e+22

ãass (Earth = 1)2.125e-03

Equatorial radius (km)1,137

Equatorial radius (Earth = 1)0.1783

ãean density (gm/cm^3)2.05

ãean distance from the Sun (km)5,913,520,000

ãean distance from the Sun (Earth = 1))39.5294

Rotational period (days)-6.3872

Orbital period (years)248.54

ãean orbital velocity (km/sec)4.74

Orbital eccentricity0.2482

Tilt of axis (degrees)122.52

Orbital inclination (degrees)17.148

Equatorial surface gravity (m/sec^2)0.4

Equatorial escape velocity (km/sec)1.22

Visual geometric albedo0.3

ãagnitude (Vo)15.12
Our solar system consists of an average star we call the Sun, the planets ãercury, Venus, Earth, ãars,
Jupiter, Saturn, ranus, Neptune, and Pluto. It includes: the satellites of the planets; numerous comets,
asteroids, and meteoroids; and the interplanetary medium. The Sun is the richest source of
electromagnetic energy (mostly in the form of heat and light) in the solar system. The Sun's nearest
known stellar neighbor is a red dwarf star called Proxima Centauri, at a distance of 4.3 light years away.
The whole solar system, together with the local stars visible on a clear night, orbits the center of our
home galaxy, a spiral disk of 200 billion stars we call the ãilky Way. The ãilky Way has two small
galaxies orbiting it nearby, which are visible from the southern hemisphere. They are called the Large
ãagellanic Cloud and the Small ãagellanic Cloud. The nearest large galaxy is the Andromeda Galaxy. It
is a spiral galaxy like the ãilky Way but is 4 times as massive and is 2 million light years away. Our
galaxy, one of billions of galaxies known, is traveling through intergalactic space.


The Sun contains 99.85% of all the matter in the Solar System. The planets, which condensed out of the
same disk of material that formed the Sun, contain only 0.135% of the mass of the solar system. Jupiter
contains more than twice the matter of all the other planets combined. Satellites of the planets, comets,
asteroids, meteoroids, and the interplanetary medium constitute the remaining 0.015%. The following
table is a list of the mass distribution within our Solar System.

y Sun: 99.85%
y Planets: 0.135%
y Comets: 0.01% ?
y Satellites: 0.00005%
y ãinor Planets: 0.0000002% ?
y ãeteoroids: 0.0000001% ?
y Interplanetary ãedium: 0.0000001% ?
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The ãoon is a differentiated body: it has a geochemically distinct crust, mantle, and core. This
structure is thought to have developed through the fractional crystallization of a global magma ocean
shortly after the ãoon's formation 4.5 billion years ago.[23] Crystallization of this magma ocean would
have created a mafic mantle from the precipitation and sinking of the minerals olivine, clinopyroxene,
and orthopyroxene; after about three-quarters of the magma ocean had crystallised, lower-density
plagioclase minerals could form and float into a crust on top.[24] The final liquids to crystallise would
have been initially sandwiched between the crust and mantle, with a high abundance of incompatible
and heat-producing elements.[1] Consistent with this, geochemical mapping from orbit shows the crust is
mostly anorthosite,[5] and moon rock samples of the flood lavas erupted on the surface from partial
melting in the mantle confirm the mafic mantle composition, which is more iron rich than that of
Earth.[1] Geophysical techniques suggest that the crust is on average ~50 km thick.[1]