Space Research


Mercury | Venus | Earth | Mars | Jupiter | Saturn | Uranus | Neptune | Resources


Jupiter


external image jupiter.gif Jupiter is a large gas planet whose clouds change colors daily. It is the 5th planet from the sun and is more than 483,000,000 (483 million) miles from the sun. Because it is so far from the sun, it takes Jupiter almost 12 years to travel around the sun one time. Compared to Earth, Jupiter spins very fast. It takes Jupiter just 10 hours to rotate one time. That means that one day on Earth is more than two days on Jupiter.

Did you know that if you weighed 50 pounds on Earth, you would weigh over 118 pounds on Jupiter? That's because gravity is stronger. One reason for this is because Jupiter has more mass (weighs a lot more) than Earth does.

Jupiter gives off two times more heat than it gets from the Sun. It shines very brightly in the night sky for nine months of the year when it is closest to Earth.

Jupiter has forty-nine named moons (and may have as many as 63!). One of Jupiter's moons, Io, has active volcanoes on it. Areas on Io that are near the volcanoes are very, very hot.


Marsmars.jpg


Mars is the fourth planet from the sun, and the first planet beyond the Earth. The temperature on Mars can be very, very cold. On its warmest day, Mars can still be a very cold place.

Mars is more than 141 million miles from the sun. This is much farther from the sun than the Earth, so it takes more time to go around the sun. One Martian year--the time Mars takes to orbit once around the sun--is 687 Earth days. It takes 24 hours 37 minutes to rotate on its axis. This is how long its day lasts.

Did you know that if you weighed 50 pounds on Earth, you would weigh only 19 pounds on Mars? One reason for this is because Mars has less mass (weighs a lot less) than Earth does.

Space probes have landed on Mars. These probes were sent on a fact-finding mission by the United States. They performed experiments on the Martian dirt and atmosphere. The dirt was found to contain clay which was rich in iron. The iron is what gives Mars its red color.
Mars has many craters which were formed by meteorites or asteroids hitting it. Mars also has some of the tallest volcanoes and some of the deepest valleys in our solar system.

Mars has two moons which have unusual shapes. Scientists think these potato-shaped moons were once asteroids captured by Mars' gravitational pull .


Venusexternal image venus.gif


Venus and Earth are almost the same size. Venus is the closest planet to Earth, but it does not have oceans or human life like Earth.

Venus gets so hot during the day that it could melt a lead cannonball. The temperature rises to 484 degrees Celsius on the side facing the Sun. Venus has very thick, rapidly spinning clouds which cover its surface. These clouds hold heat in. That is why Venus gets so hot. These clouds also reflect sunlight. That is why Venus appears so bright to us here on Earth. There are constant thunderstorms in these clouds.

Venus has several large inactive volcanoes. Much of the surface is covered by old lava flows from these volcanoes.

Venus is unusual because it rotates in a direction opposite that of all of the other planets. Venus spins very slowly on its axis. It takes 243 Earth days for Venus to spin one time. So one day on Venus is longer than 8 months on Earth! But, Venus moves around the Sun faster than the Earth. It is about 67 million miles from the Sun, which is closer than Earth. So Venus takes on 225 Earth days to go around the Sun one time.

Did you know that if you weigh 50 pounds on Earth, you would weigh about 45 pounds on Venus? Venus has a little less gravity than Earth does because it has slightly less mass (weighs a little bit less) than Earth.


Saturn

external image saturn.gif

Saturn is a very large gas planet.

It spins very fast on its axis. It takes Saturn only 10 hours to spin one time. It spins so fast that it flattens out the top and the bottom of the planet. The fast spin also causes Saturn to bulge at its equator.

Saturn is the 6th planet from the Sun and is over 880 millions miles away from the sun. So, it takes this planet a long, long time to travel all the way around the sun one time. One year on Saturn (that's the time it takes to go around the sun one time) is over 29 years on Earth!

Did you know that if you weighed 50 pounds on Earth, you would weigh 53 pounds on Saturn? Saturn weighs more than Earth does, so it should have a lot more gravity. But, it's also a lot bigger (about 10 times bigger) than Earth. That makes it have less gravity. The result is that Saturn's gravity is only a little bit more than on Earth.

Saturn is surrounded by over 1000 rings made of ice and dust. Some of the rings are very thin and some are very thick. As comets and meteorites smashed the moons, Saturn's gravitational pull shaped the particles into rings. Saturn has at least 52 moons. Some of these moons orbit the planet within the rings, creating gaps in the rings.


Neptune


external image neptune.gif Neptune is the farthest planet from the Sun. It is so cold on Neptune that you would need skin thicker than a polar bear's to stay warm. How far is it? It is almost 3 billion miles away from the sun! (That's 3,000 million miles). Because it is so far, Neptune takes longer to go around the Sun than any other planet. One year on Neptune is the same as 165 years on Earth!

Neptune spins faster than Earth does. It takes Neptune only 19 hours to rotate one time. (Earth takes 24 hours to spin one time).

Did you know that if you weighed 50 pounds on Earth, you would weigh 56 pounds on Neptune? Neptune weighs more than Earth does, so it should have a lot more gravity. But, it's also a lot bigger (about 10 times bigger) than Earth. That makes it have less gravity. The result is that Neptune's gravity is only a little bit more than on Earth.

Neptune is a large gas planets that look like big blue-green balls in the sky. This planet has large, dark circles on its surface which astronomers believe to be storms. Neptune has two thick and two thin rings which surround it.

Neptune also has thirteen known moons. Four of these moons orbit the planet within the rings. One of Neptune's moons, Triton, orbits the planet in a direction opposite to Neptune's other moons.


Mercury mercury.jpg


Mercury is the second smallest planet in our solar system. Mercury is about the same size as our Moon.

It is also the closest planet to the Sun, only about 36 million miles away. So, Mercury travels around the Sun faster than any other planet. That is how it got its name. It was named after Mercury, the swift messenger of the gods in ancient Roman mythology. It takes Mercury about 88 Earth days to travel around the Sun one time. That means that in one year on Earth, Mercury can go around the Sun more than 4 times!

Mercury has a very thin atmosphere. Humans would not be able to live there. The temperature on Mercury gets so hot it could melt a tin pan. The surface of Mercury has holes in it where objects such as meteorites and asteroids crashed into it.

Mercury rotates quite slowly. It rotates once on its axis in about 59 Earth days. This is the slowest of any planet except Venus. That means that one Mercury year is about 1 1/2 Mercury days.

Did you know that if you weighed 50 pounds on Earth, you would weigh 19 pounds on Mercury? Mercury has a lot less mass (weighs a lot less) than Earth does, so it has a lot less gravity.

Mercury can only be seen from Earth just before sunrise or just after sunset, but not in the middle of the night. That is because Mercury always appears near the Sun when viewed from Earth.


Uranus

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Uranus tilts over so far on its axis that it rotates on its side. Because of this, its poles are sometimes pointed almost directly at the Sun. Uranus spins a little bit faster than Earth does. It takes Uranus 18 hours to spin around one time. The rapid rotation (fast spinning) of Uranus causes winds up to 600 kilometers per hour to blow in its atmosphere.

Uranus is the 7th planet from the Sun. It is almost 2 billion miles away from the sun. (That 2,000 million miles). Because it is so far, it takes Uranus a long, long time to go around the Sun one time. One year on Uranus is the same as 84 years on Earth.

Did you know that if you weighed 50 pounds on Earth, you would weigh 45 pounds on Uranus? Uranus weighs more than Earth does, so it should have a lot more gravity. But, it's also a lot bigger (about 4 times bigger) than Earth. That makes gravity no so strong. The result is that Uranus's gravity is only a little bit more than on Earth.

Uranus has eleven known rings which contain dark, boulder-sized particles. Uranus has 27 named moons. Some of these moons are less than 100 kilometers wide and black as coal.

The temperature in the upper atmosphere is very cold. The cold methane gas is what gives Uranus its blue-green color.


Resources


This page was written by Mr. Caggia and Mrs. Mangum. We used these web sites to get our information: