Space probes grant us perspective, the ability to see our place within the vastness of the solar system. But opportunities to see all of the solar system's planets in one observation are rare. In fact, there's only been one opportunity on one mission to see the whole solar system at once, until now.
So what are some of the most surprising things about the planets? The closest planet to the Sun does indeed have ice on its surface. That sounds surprising at first glance, but the ice is found in permanently shadowed craters — those that never receive any sunlight.
The Earth is our home, the only place in the universe where we know for certain that life exists. Earth formed a bit over 4. According to scientists' best theories, this gas and dust collapsed into a diskwith different parts of the disk coalescing into each of the planets in our solar system.
There are probably also many more planetary satellites that have not yet been discovered. The first thing to notice is that the solar system is mostly empty space. The planets are very small compared to the space between them.
Here are the planets listed in order of their distance from the Sun:. If you add in the dwarf planets, Ceres is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, while the remaining dwarf planets are in the outer Solar System and in order from the Sun are PlutoHaumeaMakemakeand Eris. There is, as yet, a bit of indecision about the Trans-Neptunian Objects known as OrcusQuaoarO10and Sedna and their inclusion in the dwarf planet category.
Mercury is the closest planet to the sun. As such, it circles the sun faster than all the other planets, which is why Romans named it after their swift-footed messenger god. The Sumerians also knew of Mercury since at least 5, years ago.
Mercury takes 59 days to make a rotation but only 88 days to circle the Sun. That means that there are fewer than 2 days in a year! Many astronomers believe that Mercury might be the core of what was once a much larger planet -- it appears to be a huge ball of iron covered by a thin layer of rock.
Earth, our home, is the third planet from the sun. It's the only planet known to have an atmosphere containing free oxygen, oceans of water on its surface and, of course, life. Earth is the fifth largest of the planets in the solar system.
Space Quiz. Space is a mysterious place but there are plenty of things we are sure about when it comes to that vast space that surrounds us here on earth. Challenge what you think you know with our fun space quiz.
More information about the moons of Jupiter. What is even more provocative is the theory that Jupiter is a failed star. Current scientific knowledge suggests that if Jupiter had, in fact, been roughly 80 times more massive, nuclear fusion would have taken place in its core; thus, Jupiter would have become a star, not a planet.