Solar System “ The uncharted frontier” Composed by: Andy Lamancusa Illustrated by: Amber Schaefer
The Solar System The solar system consists of nine planets, all of which revolve around the sun.
Lets Explore! Click on the yellow boxes above the planets to learn more! Take the quiz!
Sun This king of our Solar System rules because compared to everything else, it is so large. It contains about 98% of all the mass, or rocks, dust, and gas in the Solar System. If the Sun were hollow a million Earths could fit inside. The Sun's surface is a warm 6,000 degrees Celsius. This is the same temperature as the Earth's core.
Mercury In astronomy mythology, Mercury was the Roman version of the god Hermes. He was the messenger for the other gods, and for this reason Mercury is often depicted in pictures with winged sandals. Mercury means: Mercury is a world of extremes. Because it is so close to the Sun a visitor could easily cook to death. However because Mercury spins so slowly it gets very cold in the night time, which means a visitor could also freeze to death. As Mercury's massive iron core cooled, it contracted, or shrunk. As the core shrunk, the surface became wrinkled, in a similar manner to the way the surface of a balloon becomes wrinkled as air is released from it.
Venus Venus means: In astronomy mythology, Venus was the Roman goddess of love and beauty. In Greek her name was Aphrodite. Venus is a hostile planet. Its thick cloud cover makes it impossible to see the surface, and also traps much of the Sun's heat. This extra heat gives Venus the hottest average temperature of any of the planets. In many ways Venus is similar to the Earth. It has active volcanoes, venusquakes, mountains and valleys. The major difference is that Venus's atmosphere makes the planet far too hot for life.
Earth Earth means: In astronomy mythology, Her Greek name was Gaea. Earth was the mother of the mountains, valleys, streams and all other land formations. She was married to Uranus. Our planet is an oasis of life in an otherwise desolate universe. The Earth's temperature, weather, atmosphere and many other factors are just right to keep us alive. Scientists use the Earth to study all the other planets. Since no human has ever visited another planet, we have to use what we know about the Earth, and try to guess what the other planets must be like. This is called Comparative Planetology.
Mars Mars means: In astronomy mythology, Mars was the Roman god of war and agriculture. It may not seem like these two things go together, but they do. Mars protected those who fought for their communities, and stayed home to raise crops for food. Mars excites scientists because its mild temperament is more like the Earth's than any of the other planets. Evidence suggests that Mars once had rivers, streams, lakes, and even an ocean. Today the only water on Mars is either frozen in the polar caps, or underground. Mars has higher mountains, and deeper canyons than any other planet. The largest canyon on Mars would stretch from New York City to Los Angeles on the Earth. That makes the Grand Canyon look tiny.
Jupiter Jupiter means: In astronomy mythology, Jupiter known as Zeus in Greece over threw his father Saturn to become king of the gods. He then split the Universe with his brothers Neptune and Pluto. Jupiter's great red spot visible in the picture to the right is where a giant storm has been raging for at least 300 years. This storm's super hurricane winds blow across an area larger than the Earth. You can see four of Jupiter's moons With a pair of binoculars at night. Also Jupiter spins really fast. It only takes 10 hours to go from night to day on Jupiter. Jupiter has at least 63 moons.
Saturn Saturn means: In astronomy mythology, Saturn was the god of agriculture, he was called Cronus by the Greeks. He is the son of Uranus, and father of Jupiter. Saturn over threw his father to become king of the gods, but was then over thrown himself by his son Jupiter. Saturn is a favorite object for many observers. Its beautiful rings are 169,800 miles wide, but less thick than a football field. In many ways Saturn is similar to Jupiter, but it is much smaller. Under the clouds of methane and helium the sky gradually turns into liquid until it becomes a giant ocean of liquid chemicals. Saturn has several hundred rings. However it is not the only planet with rings. Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune also have rings.
Uranus Uranus means: In astronomy mythology, Uranus was the lord of the skies and husband of Earth. He was also the king of the gods until his son Saturn overthrew him. Uranus is very odd. Unlike all the other planets and most of the moons in our Solar System Uranus spins on its side. It is believed that long ago a very large object smashed into this planet. The crash was so powerful that it completely changed the direction of Uranus' spin. Scientists think Uranus has a huge water ocean underneath its clouds.
Neptune Neptune means: In astronomy mythology, Neptune was originally only the god of water, but was later extended to the ocean when he became associated with the Greek god Poseidon. Neptune has a giant storm much like the storm on Jupiter. This storm is often called The Great Dark Spot. We do not know how long this storm has been active, because it is so far away that we could not get a good view of Neptune until modern times when we began to send robot explorers. Scientists think there is a very large water ocean under Neptune's clouds.
Pluto Pluto means: Pluto is not a planet. However, it does have a moon that orbits it. In truth, these two small worlds actually orbit each other. Pluto has only one moon, called Charon Until 1978 it was believed that Pluto was much larger. Through a telescope on Earth Charon and Pluto look like they are the same object. However in 1978 Jim Christy discovered that what we used to think was one object, were really two. Charon and Pluto keep the same face towards each other at all times.
Other Asteroids: Comets: Among the most brilliant, and most rare objects in the night sky. These soaring beacons with their beautiful tails come from the outer realms of the Solar System. While most asteroids can be found in the Asteroid Belt, others are in strange orbits straying far from home. It is currently believed that at least 5000 asteroids cross the Earth's orbit, some coming very close. Don't worry though, asteroids and comets only hit the Earth every 100 million years or so. A comet is a small world which scientists sometimes call a planetesimal. They are made out of dust, and ice. Kind of like a dirty snow ball. 26 very large asteroids have been discovered, which is probably most of the big ones. But there are still millions of smaller ones that we have yet to see because they are too tiny, only a mile or so across.
Quiz Time! In astrology mythology which planets name stands for the Greek good of war and agriculture? Neptune Mars Question #2
Question #2 Which planet is the closest to the sun? Here is a hint its really hot there. Earth Mercury Question #3
Question #3 Which planet is known for having several hundred rings surrounding it? Saturn Jupiter The end!
Work cited: IONCMASTE. 06 Apr. 2009 <http://www.ioncmaste.ca/homepage/resources/ web_resources/CSA_Astro9/files/images/unit4/solar_system "Solar System - Interactive Solar System - By KidsAstronomy.com." Astronomy For Kids - KidsAstronomy.com. 1998-2009. 06 Apr. 2009 < http://kidsastronomy.com/solar_system.htm>. Zunal.Com. 06 Apr. 2009 < http://zunal.com/myaccount/uploads/solar_system_ill(1).jpg>.