You can learn about all the planets in our solar system. How many planets are there? How big are they? Are there any people on Venus? Is Neptune really blue? Go exploring to find answers to your planet questions!
Ask your mom if you can look at this view of the solar system on her computer, because you need more than an iPad or Kindle to see it. It’s a lot of fun to play with, too!
– MERCURY –
The closest planet to the Sun, Mercury, looks a lot like our moon with all those craters, doesn’t it?
Daytime temperatures on Mercury can reach 800F and drop to -290F at night. Now that is hot AND cold!
The black dot in this picture of the Sun is Mercury. Big sun, tiny Mercury!
– VENUS –
The second planet from the Sun is Venus. It looks really smooth if you just flew by it fast.
But if you take the time to really look at it, there are all kinds of hills and valleys. The Magellan spacecraft flew by Venus and scientists made the image below to show features, like a map of Earth that shows mountains and deserts. So there’s not really water on Venus, the blue shows flat lands like deserts, while the brown areas are more like mountains.
– EARTH –
You know what Earth looks like, right? Well, do you what Earth looks like if you were on the Moon? It would like like this. An astronaut took this picture while standing on the Moon!
And how about if you were standing on Mars? What would the Moon look like from there?
The Curiosity Rover took that shot because no person has visited Mars (yet!). And speaking of Mars, that’s our next-door neighbor in the Solar System!
– MARS –
Mars is the planet closest to us, so we have sent three rovers and a lot of cameras to explore the place. Here’s a photo of Mars that a rover there took last month! (I would so love to be a photographer on Mars!)
How many rovers are on Mars? Three: Spirit (which is no longer working), Opportunity, and Curiosity. The Curiosity rover is about the size of a small car and it has 10 instruments to help it do science.
I like Curiosity a lot because I met it when it was being built in California, then I saw it launch in 2011, and then I watched the landing at NASA in 2012! Here is a picture of the Curiosity rover safely packed away for launch in that smooth white rocket…
And this is what it looked like when that rocket launched Curiosity on its way to Mars! It took almost 9 months for Curiosity to get to Mars.
And here is a map of Mars that was updated on April 7th! The mapmaker changes it every time Curiosity sends new information about Mars back to Earth.
The Keeper of the Maps is a friend of mine named Fred Calef III and you can read this article about what he does with maps.
– JUPITER –
My favorite planet is Jupiter because it is so bright in the sky a lot of the year. And it has a BIG red spot on it. That spot is a storm, and it has been going on for hundreds of years! Imagine that, a storm that lasts like forever! That little black dot? That’s one of Jupiter’s moons, named Europa.
Jupiter is also my favorite planet because it has 67 moons. 67! I can only see four in my telescope at night.
If you and I could get in a magical space ship and get closer, we’d see those four big moons really look like this:
– SATURN –
Ah, Saturn, the ringed planet!
Let’s get a close-up of those rings, OK? OK!
How did the scientists take that photo? They used an instrument on the Cassini spacecraft that has been exploring Saturn since 2004 (which makes Cassini 2 years older than Emma!).
Want to learn more about the Cassini spacecraft and see all its parts? Go look here!
– URANUS –
Nearly two billion miles from Earth, Uranus is the the seventh planet in our solar system. It’s so far away that you can only see it with a telescope. And only one spacecraft from Earth has ever flown by it (the Voyager 2 exploration spacecraft in 1986).
It takes Uranus 84 *years* to orbit one time around the sun. If you lived on Uranus, you’d have a birthday only once every 84 years!
The five moons of Uranus, from largest to smallest, are Ariel, Miranda, Titania, Oberon and Umbriel. The most interesting moon is Miranda; it has ice canyons, terraces, and other strange-looking surface areas.
– NEPTUNE –
Neptune is the eighth and farthest planet from the Sun in our Solar System. It is the fourth-largest planet in size and the third heaviest planet. It’s very dark and cold out there and the planet has very strong winds that never end.
Neptune has 13 moons and six rings! And it takes 165 years to make one orbit around the sun (remember, the Earth only takes 365 days!).
How big is Neptune? Try this: Imagine our Sun is as big as the front door of your house. Now go find a nickel and put it next to the door. That nickel is how big the Earth is compared to the Sun. Now, go find a baseball (or ask your Mom to make a fist). Put *that* next to the nickel. The baseball (or the fist) is Neptune. See, it’s a HUGE planet compared to our Earth! (How big is our Moon in this example? It’s the size of a pea!)
– Rocky Planets –
The first four planets in our solar system are rocky, hard, and dense. Here’s a picture that compares them by size. From left to right, they are Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.
– GAS Planets –
The last four planets in our solar system are mostly gasses (not rocky planets like Earth or Mars). Here’s a cool image that shows how they compare to each other in size. Jupiter is on the left, then Saturn, the Uranus, and Neptune is on the right.
Remember the Sun as your front door and Neptune as the size of a baseball and Earth is a nickel? Jupiter and Saturn would be basketballs. They are HUGE! Can you imagine a basketball and a nickel? That’s Jupiter and Earth! Our Earth is really a small planet in the solar system!
– OCEAN WORLDS –
Water is life to us human beings, and wherever we want to go in this big universe, we need to have water. So where can we find it? Read on to see!
Europa is my favorite moon beside Earth’s moon. Why? Because it looks so very, very awesome…
And some day, NASA might send the Europa Clipper spacecraft there! It might look like this…
There is SO much planet exploring going on, this page could go on forever! But it has to stop somewhere, so it will stop right… here!
Go back to Eden’s Space Page