Ever since the dawn of time, humans have been fascinated with space. The sky and all that lies beyond it have captivated us for centuries.
The planets are a part of this fascination. They have always played an important role in our lives—whether we know it or not. To fully understand why these celestial bodies have such an impact on us, it’s important to learn about each one.
Mercury is the closest planet to the sun. It is also the smallest planet in the solar system. Mercury is slightly larger than Earth’s moon and has a mass of about 0.055 Earths. Mercury is very hot—the side facing the sun can reach temperatures of 800 degrees Fahrenheit (430 degrees Celsius). The side facing away from the sun can be as cold as -280 degrees Fahrenheit (-170 degrees Celsius).
Mercury is unique because it has a very thin atmosphere. The planet’s surface is also covered in craters. Mercury is the fastest planet in the solar system, orbiting the sun at a speed of about 47 km/s.
Venus is the second closest planet to the sun and is similar in size to Earth. Venus has a mass of about 0.815 Earths and a diameter of 12,103 km. Venus is the hottest planet, with surface temperatures reaching 462 degrees Celsius (863 degrees Fahrenheit).
Venus’ atmosphere is very thick and is composed mostly of carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid. The atmospheric pressure on Venus is also 90 times greater than the pressure on Earth. These conditions make it impossible for life to exist on Venus.
Venus is the brightest object in the night sky after the moon. It is often referred to as the “morning star” or the “evening star.”
Earth is the third planet from the sun and is the largest of the terrestrial planets. Earth has a mass of about 1 Earth and a diameter of 12,756 km.
Earth is unique because it is the only planet in the solar system that is habitable for life. The conditions on Earth are just right for life to exist. Water covers about 71 percent of Earth’s surface and provides the necessary conditions for life.
Earth is also unique because it has a large moon. The moon orbits Earth and has a diameter of 3,474 km. The moon is thought to have been formed when a planet collided with Earth billions of years ago.
Mars is the fourth planet from the sun and is the second smallest planet in the solar system. Mars has a mass of about 0.107 Earths and a diameter of 6,792 km.
Mars is the only planet in the solar system to show signs of past existence, which allows it to be claimed as Earth’s “twin.” It is red due to the high amounts of iron oxide on its surface. Mars has two moons: Phobos and Deimos. These moons are thought to be asteroids that were captured by Mars’ gravity.
Mars is also home to the largest volcano in the solar system, Olympus Mons. Olympus Mons is about 22 km high and 600 km wide.
Jupiter is the fifth planet from the sun and is the largest planet in the solar system. Jupiter has a mass of about 317 Earths and a diameter of 142,984 km.
Jupiter is the only planet in our Solar System with a powerful magnetic field. This magnetic field protects Jupiter’s moons from the charged particles that form the solar wind. The Great Red Spot is a vast storm that has been raging for hundreds of years on Jupiter. There are 62 moons in total, including the four biggest planets in the solar system: Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.
Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun and is the second-largest planet in the solar system. Saturn has a mass of about 95 Earths and a diameter of 120,536 km.
Saturn is unique because it has a very bright and extensive ring system. The rings are made up of ice and dust particles. Saturn also has 62 moons, including the largest moon in the solar system, Titan.
Uranus is the seventh planet from the sun and is the third-largest planet in the solar system. Uranus has a mass of about 14 Earths and a diameter of 51,118 km.
Uranus is unique because it is the only planet that rotates on its side. This is thought to be the result of a collision with another planet early in the solar system’s history. Uranus has 27 moons, including the largest moon in the solar system, Titania.
Neptune is the eighth planet from the sun and is the fourth-largest planet in the solar system. Neptune has a mass of about 17 Earths and a diameter of 49,532 km.
Neptune is unusual since it has the most powerful winds in the solar system. These winds can reach speeds of up to 2,100 km/h. Neptune also has the largest moon in the solar system, Triton. Triton is unusual because it is the only large moon that orbits in the opposite direction of its planet’s rotation.
The eight planets in our solar system are all distinctive, and each has a vital function. Some of which make it hospitable for life. Earth is the only planet that we know of that is currently inhabited, but other planets may be able to support life in the future.