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Our Sun's Planets

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The sun has the following nine planets (listed in alphabetical order)....

Earth, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Neptune, Pluto, Saturn, Uranus, Venus


Earth
  • Third planet from the Sun
  • Fifth largest planet
  • Densest major body in the solar system
  • 71% of the Earth's surface is covered with water. Earth is the only planet on which water can exist in liquid form on the surface
  • Atmosphere is 77% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, with traces of argon, carbon dioxide and water
  • A modest magnetic field produced by electric currents in the core
  • Has only one natural satellite, the Moon

Jupiter
  • The fifth planet from the Sun
  • The largest planet
  • Mass 318 times that of earth
  • Fourth brightest object in the sky
  • First spacecraft to visit was Pioneer 10 in 1973 and later by Pioneer 11, Voyager 1, Voyager 2, Ulysses, and Galileo
  • Atmosphere is 90% hydrogen, 10% helium, with traces of methane, water, ammonia
  • Has four rings. They are faint like Saturn's but much smaller and they are dark, unlike Saturn's
  • A huge magnetic field compared to that of earth
  • Often the brightest star in the nighttime sky
  • Sixteen known natural satellites

Mars
  • Fourth planet from the Sun
  • Seventh largest planet
  • First spacecraft to visit Mars was Mariner 4 in 1965. Several others followed including the two Viking landers in 1976
  • Surface area is about the same as the land surface area of Earth
  • Most highly varied and interesting terrain of any of the terrestrial planets
  • Atmosphere of 95.3% carbon dioxide, 2.7% nitrogen, 1.6% argon, and traces of oxygen and water
  • Average pressure on the surface is less than 1% that of Earth
  • Permanent ice caps at both poles composed mostly of solid carbon dioxide (dry ice)
  • No global magnetic field
  • In the nighttime sky, easily visible with the naked eye
  • Has two natural satellites: Phobos and Deimos

Mercury
  • Closest planet to the Sun
  • Eigth largest planet
  • Second densest major body in the solar system
  • Visited by only one spacecraft, Mariner 10
  • Its surface is heavily cratered and very old
  • Has regions of relatively smooth plains
  • It has no atmosphere
  • A magnetic field about 1% that of the Earth
  • No known satellites
  • Sometimes visible with binoculars or even the naked eye

Neptune
  • Eigth planet from the Sun
  • Fourth largest of the planets (by diameter)
  • First and only spacecraft to visit was Voyager 2 on Aug 25, 1989
  • Like Uranus, Neptune has a blue color resulting from absorption of red light by methane in the atmosphere
  • Eight known satellites
  • Four rings: Very dark like the rings of Uranus and Jupiter
  • Can be seen with binoculars if one knows exactly where to look

Pluto
  • Farthest planet from the Sun
  • Smallest of all the planets
  • Not yet visited by any spacecraft
  • One satellite named Charon
  • Although little is known about the atmosphere, it probably consists primarily of nitrogen with some carbon dioxide and methane
  • Can be seen with an amateur telescope but it is rather difficult

Saturn
  • Sixth planet from the Sun
  • Second largest planet
  • First spacecraft to visit was Pioneer 11 in 1979 and later by Voyager 1 and 2
  • The least dense of the planets
  • Atmosphere is 75% hydrogen, 25% helium, with traces of water, methane, and ammonia
  • Eight known natural satellites
  • Seven rings: Very thin and composed of thousands of small particles primarily of water ice and perhaps rocks with icy coatings
  • Has a significant magnetic field
  • When it is in the nighttime sky, Saturn is easily visible to the naked eye

Uranus
  • Seventh planet from the Sun
  • Third largest planet (by diameter)
  • First and only spacecraft to visit was Voyager on Jan 24, 1986
  • Atmosphere is 83% hydrogen, 15% helium, and 2% methane
  • Has a blue color resulting from absorption of red light by methane in the upper atmosphere
  • On a clear night, just barely visible to the naked eye
  • Fifteen know natural satellites
  • Eleven rings

Venus
  • Second planet from the Sun
  • Sixth largest planet
  • Brightest object in the sky except for the Sun and the Moon
  • First visited by Mariner 2 in 1962 and since then more than twenty other spacecraft.
  • Most of the surface consists of gently rolling plains with little relief. Mostly covered with lava flows
  • There are no small craters since small meteors burn up in Venus's dense atmosphere before reaching the surface.
  • No magnetic field
  • No satellites
  • Usually visible with the naked eye.


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Today is Wednesday, 28-Jun-2017 18:30:09 EDT
Last updated: Sun Dec 31 14:16:06 2006 - [tony,1] Send Email to Joe