In ours Solar System, astronomers often divide the planets into two groups — the inside planets and the outer planets. The within planets room closer come the Sun and also are smaller and rockier. The external planets are more away, larger and made up largely of gas.

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The within planets (in bespeak of street from the sun, closest to furthest) room Mercury, Venus, Earth and also Mars. After an asteroid belt comes the external planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and also Neptune. The exciting thing is, in some other planetary equipment discovered, the gas giants room actually quite close come the sun.

This provides predicting exactly how our Solar System created an exciting exercise because that astronomers. Conventional wisdom is the the young sun blew the gases into the outer fringes that the Solar System and also that is why there room such huge gas giants there. However, part extrasolar systems have “hot Jupiters” the orbit near to their Sun.

The within Planets:

The four inner planets are referred to as terrestrial planets since their surfaces room solid (and, as the surname implies, somewhat similar to planet — return the term deserve to be misleading because each of the four has vastly different environments). They’re consisted of mostly of hefty metals such together iron and nickel, and have one of two people no moons or few moons. Below are short descriptions of each of these planets based on this details from NASA.

Mercury: Mercury is the smallest earth in ours Solar system and also the closest. It rotates slowly (59 planet days) relative to the time it takes to rotate about the sunlight (88 days). The planet has no moons, yet has a tenuous setting (exosphere) include oxygen, sodium, hydrogen, helium and also potassium. The NASA MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and also Ranging) spacecraft is at this time orbiting the planet.

The terrestrial planets of our Solar system at roughly relative sizes. From left, Mercury, Venus, Earth and also Mars. Credit: Lunar and Planetary Institute

Venus: Venus to be once taken into consideration a twin planet to Earth, until astronomers uncovered its surface is at a lead-melting temperature that 900 levels Fahrenheit (480 degrees Celsius). The world is also a slow rotator, through a 243-day long Venusian day and an orbit approximately the sun at 225 days. Its atmosphere is thick and also contains carbon dioxide and also nitrogen. The planet has no rings or moons and is right now being saw by the European an are Agency’s Venus to express spacecraft.

Earth: Earth is the just planet through life as we recognize it, however astronomers have discovered some virtually Earth-sized planets exterior of our solar system in what could be habitable areas of their particular stars. It includes an environment of nitrogen and also oxygen, and has one moon and also no rings. Plenty of spacecraft circle our earth to administer telecommunications, weather information and other services.

Mars: Mars is a earth under intense study because it shows indications of liquid water flow on its surface ar in the old past. Today, however, its environment is a wispy mix of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and argon. It has actually two small moons (Phobos and also Deimos) and no rings. A Mars job is slightly much longer than 24 planet hours and it takes the planet around 687 earth days come circle the Sun. There’s a little fleet of orbiters and also rovers at Mars ideal now, including the large NASA Curiosity rover the landed in 2012.

The external planets of our Solar device at about relative sizes. Indigenous left, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Credit: Lunar and also Planetary Institute

The external Planets:

The external planets (sometimes called Jovian planets or gas giants) are substantial planets swaddled in gas. Lock all have rings and all of plenty that moons each. Despite their size, only two of them space visible without telescopes: Jupiter and also Saturn. Uranus and Neptune to be the an initial planets discovered because antiquity, and showed astronomers the solar system was enlarge than previously thought. Below are brief descriptions of each of these planets based ~ above this details from NASA.

Jupiter: Jupiter is the biggest planet in ours Solar System and spins really rapidly (10 earth hours) relative to the orbit that the sun (12 earth years). The thick atmosphere is mostly made up of hydrogen and helium, perhaps surrounding a terrestrial main point that is about Earth’s size. The planet has actually dozens that moons, some faint rings and also a great Red spot — a raging storm happening for the past 400 year at the very least (since us were able to see it v telescopes). NASA’s Juno spacecraft is en route and also will visit over there in 2016.

Saturn: Saturn is best known for its influential ring mechanism — seven recognized rings v well-defined divisions and gaps between them. Just how the rings obtained there is one topic under investigation. It likewise has dozens the moons. Its atmosphere is mainly hydrogen and also helium, and also it also rotates easily (10.7 earth hours) family member to its time to circle the sunlight (29 planet years). Saturn is at this time being visited by the Cassini spacecraft, which will fly closer come the planet’s rings in the coming years.

Near-infrared views of Uranus reveal its otherwise faint ring system, highlighting the level to which the is tilted. Credit: Lawrence Sromovsky, (Univ. Wisconsin-Madison), Keck Observatory.

Uranus: Uranus was first discovered by wilhelm Herschel in 1781. The planet’s work takes around 17 earth hours and one orbit around the sunlight takes 84 earth years. That is mass has water, methane, ammonia, hydrogen and helium surrounding a rocky core. It has dozens that moons and a pass out ring system. There are no spacecraft slated to visit Uranus ideal now; the last visitor was Voyager 2 in 1986.

Neptune: Neptune is a remote planet that includes water, ammmonia, methane, hydrogen and also helium and also a possible Earth-sized core. The has an ext than a dozen moons and also six rings. The just spacecraft to ever visit it to be NASA’s Voyager 2 in 1989.

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To learn an ext about the planets and also missions, examine out these links:

Solar mechanism Exploration: Planets (NASA)NASA Photojournal (NASA)Missions (NASA)Space scientific research (European an are Agency)USGS Astrogeology (U.S. Geological Survey)The Solar System and Its Planets (European room Agency)

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CategoriesAstronomy, guide to space TagsEarth, inside planets, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Neptune, outer planets, Saturn, Uranus, Venus

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