MAR 24, 2020 3:59 PM PDT

How Much Do You Know About the Solar System?

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Our solar system is only one out of hundreds of stellar systems residing in the Milky Way galaxy. It’s comprised of the Sun and eight known planets, half of which are Terrestrial (sporting solid, Earth-like properties), while the other half are Jovian (sporting massive, Jupiter-like properties).

Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars make up the solar system’s four Terrestrial planets, and among those, Earth is the only one known to support life. Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, is the smallest and hottest planet in the solar system. Venus, Earth, and Mars are each similar in size, give or take, with Venus being the hottest of the three and Mars being the coldest. It’s believed that Mars may have supported life up to 3.7 billion years ago.

Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune make up the solar system’s four Jovian planets – among those, Jupiter and Saturn are considered gas giants and comprised predominantly of hydrogen and helium, while Uranus and Neptune are considered ice giants and comprised of rock, ice, water, methane, and ammonia, among other things. Captivatingly, only members of the Jovian planetary family are known to sport planetary rings.

Separating the Terrestrial and Jovian planets is the infamous asteroid belt, which contains space dust and rocks ranging from microscopic to the size of Texas, and it’s thought that these space rocks are too heavily disturbed by Jupiter’s gravitational influence to coalesce and form planets. Similarly, another belt orbits the Jovian planets, and it’s called the Kuiper Belt. Few spacecraft have ventured this far out in our solar system, with NASA’s New Horizons mission being one of the most recent.

Well beyond the Kuiper Belt is the Oort Cloud, a large collection of icy debris at the edge of our solar system. It’s here that the Sun’s light and gravitational influence end, and for that reason, it’s believed that the boundaries of the Oort Cloud should also be also be considered the boundaries of our solar system. It’s possible that more planets exist between the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud, but astronomers have yet to pinpoint such a world.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
NOV 17, 2019
Space & Astronomy
NOV 17, 2019
Hayabusa-2 Departs Ryugu Asteroid to Return to Earth with Samples
It’s been just over a year since JAXA’s renowned Hayabusa-2 mission arrived at asteroid 162173 Ryugu to study the dynamics of the distant space...
JAN 14, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 14, 2020
How Much Do You Know About Jupiter?
Jupiter, recognized by most as the largest known planet in our solar system, is a particularly interesting place. So interesting, in fact, that NASA sent a...
FEB 23, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 23, 2020
InSight Will Attempt to Push Down on its Mole Instrument
NASA’s sent its Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission to Mars so that it could deploy a sui...
FEB 23, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 23, 2020
NASA Resolves a Minor Hiccup with Voyager 2 Spacecraft's Performance
After spending more than four decades in outer space, NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft officially left the heliosphere and entered interstellar space in D...
MAR 15, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 15, 2020
This Exoplanet Rains... Iron!?
Many of us take the Earth and its many ‘normal’ characteristics for granted, but there are so many exoplanets in the universe around us with th...
APR 05, 2020
Space & Astronomy
APR 05, 2020
NASA Installs the Perseverance Rover's Wheels and Parachute
NASA engineers have been racing against the clock to finish building the Perseverance rover in time for the opportunistic launch window that opens up this...
Loading Comments...