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Although we live in a very small piece of the Universe, it's still where we call home and it's a very interesting place. The nine planets that make up our solar system range from very tiny rocky planets to huge gas giants featuring fascinating ring systems. Enjoy your exploration of our neighbors. Start your journey by clicking on any of the planet pictures or the planet name.
Mercury is the closest planet to the Sun. Its surface has many thousands of impact craters as a result of being bombarded by objects since the solar system's early days. Since Mercury has no protective atmosphere, the temperature on the surface ranges from extremely hot on the side facing the Sun to extremely cold on the side that faces away from the Sun.
Venus is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty. This is one of those cases where beauty is only skin deep, though, as the surface of Venus is a very unpleasant place featuring very high temperatures, winds that blow hundreds of miles per hour and an atmosphere of sulfuric acid. Venus is an example of runaway greenhouse effect on a planetary scale.
They always say there's no place like home. Our home planet is a very beautiful place with the most varied surface in the entire solar system. From a distance, our planet looks like a beautiful big blue marble.
The Red Planet is named after the Roman god of war. It's distinctive rust color is easily seen through a small telescope. The surface of Mars features many mountains, canyons and even polar ice caps that look a lot like those here on Earth. In ancient times, Mars may have harbored some kind of life, and there is a lot of research going on now trying to get a definitive answer as to whether we are the only life forms in the solar system.
Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system. It has at least sixty-one moons and features the Great Red Spot, which is a huge "storm" that has been observed from here on Earth for over three hundred years.
Saturn is one of the most beautiful planets in the solar system. It's fascinating system of rings have been a source of wonder since we first saw them with the earliest telescopes. Although the rings look fairly simple through a small telescope, spacecraft pictures have revealed that what looks like two rings through a telescope is actually hundreds of individual ring systems. In addition, Saturn has so many moons that it is like a miniature solar system.
Uranus is one of the giant gas planets in the solar system. It's mysterious blue-green color provides very few clues as to what is going on underneath the surface clouds. Uranus also has a very faint ring system that we didn't know existed until the planet was visited by the Voyager spacecraft.
Neptune was the last stop the Voyager mission made before if left our solar system. What we found out from Voyager was that Neptune has winds that blow hundreds of miles per hour and a moon that features "geysers" of nitrogen that erupt and leave dark marks on the surface.
Pluto is no longer considered a planet, but we've left this information here for reference. When it was still considered a planet, it was the smallest and most mysterious planet in our solar system. Pluto is so far away that the Sun is just a dim point of light that looks a lot like any other star. Pluto has one moon, Charon, that is almost as big as the Pluto itself.
How Big is the Solar System?
Although our planetary neighborhood is a very small part of the Universe, it is still a very large place to humans. This page will give you an idea of just how big the neighborhood is on a human scale.