24 facts about the solar system

The solar system: it’s big, it’s heliocentric, and there is space trash to spare. Here are 24 Amazing Facts about the corner of space that hosts Earth, enough asteroids for Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis to work on for decades, and a soccer-shaped dwarf planet called Haumea, adapted from an episode of The Post the list on YouTube.

1. Our solar system is a group of celestial bodies in the Milky Way galaxy.

At its center is a 4.5 billion year old star, aka our sun, around which orbit eight planets, more than 150 moons and millions of meteoroids, comets and asteroids, as well as a few dwarf planets. . Sounds impressive, but this is just one of tens of billions of solar systems that scientists believe can be found in the Milky Way.

2. The sun is huge.

If you combined the mass of everything in the solar system, the sun would be over 99% of that mass.

3. Mercury is decreasing.

Like the Earth, Mercury experiences tectonic activity. Photos taken of the planet have indicated that the surface is changing. The planet has a solid inner core which is surrounded by an outer core of liquid metal, which is cooling down. All of the rocky planets are still cooling down since their initial emergence. And as the liquid parts of Mercury’s core become solid, there is a contraction, causing the earths to shift and a smaller planet as a whole.

4. A block of lead on Venus would melt like a block of ice on earth.

The surface temperature on the second planet from the sun is around 900 ° F. Even spaceships sent to Venus are not able to withstand the environment for long. The Soviet Venera 13, for example, landed on Venus in 1982 and lasted about two hours. Before her disappearance, however, Venera was able to return the first color images of the planet and analyze part of its soil.

5. Rocks from space have been found all over planet Earth.

In 1996, for example, geologist Aly Barakat found one in the Sahara Desert. It has been nicknamed the “Stone of Hypatia” and its unique chemical composition has been widely studied. Geologists have never seen anything like it, even in meteorites or other planets. In 2018, researchers hypothesized that the Hypatia stone is older than our solar system. It contains things you learned in chemistry class, such as nickel, phosphorus, carbon, iron, aluminum, and silicon. But they are either part of unique compounds or appear together in strange ways. As one of the authors of this research explained to Popular mechanics, “We believe that many compounds (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, silicon carbide, nickel phosphide compound, native metal inclusions) are presolar. The assembly probably occurred in the early solar nebula.”

6. Jupiter is massive.

It is large enough to hold all of the other planets inside. Or in other words: it would take 1,300 Earths to fill the interior of Jupiter.

7. Jupiter’s red spot changes size.

Even Jupiter’s red spot is larger than Earth sometimes. The red dot is a storm containing winds of up to 400 mph that heats the atmosphere above it to 2,400 ° F, and its size is not constant.

8. The dwarf planet Eris was indirectly responsible for the downgrading of Pluto to a dwarf planet.

Eris, discovered in 2005, is comparable in size to Pluto, which made astronomers dizzy – they worried about the number of newly discovered bodies orbiting the sun that could be considered planets. After Eris’ discovery, the International Astronomical Union created new standards for planets: “To be considered a planet now, a celestial body must be round, revolve around the sun, and clear its orbit from smaller objects. “

9. Another dwarf planet named Haumea was discovered around the time Eris was discovered.

Haumea is a strange looking rock; it spins so fast that it is shaped like a “football” or a “plump cigar,” as NASA describes it. Haumea rotates in less than four hours.

10. Space debris is a big problem.

Between meteorites and human-created debris, NASA knows more than 20,000 pieces of “space debris” larger than a soft bullet orbiting Earth. And that’s 500,000 total coins they track, all the size of a marble or larger. There are millions of parts so small that it is not possible to track them. The agency said the man-made space debris includes “non-functional spacecraft, abandoned launcher stages, mission-related debris and fragmentation debris.”

11. Space debris can travel at more than 17,500 mph.

This means that even something as small as a chip of paint can damage operational spacecraft – sometimes the International Space Station must maneuver to avoid space debris.

12. Space debris can cause Kessler syndrome.

Beyond the danger to spacecraft, some scientists are worried about Kessler syndrome, when there is so much garbage in low Earth orbit that everything starts to shatter, creating more debris. Think of it like the domino effect, but in space.

The European Space Agency has offered to clean up space waste via nets. A team from Texas A&M University suggested sending a mechanism into space that would push objects into Earth’s atmosphere, where they would burn, then use the momentum of the pushes to travel from debris to debris.

13. An object in our solar system orbits the Sun upside down.

In 2008, astronomers discovered an object that orbits the sun at an inclination of about 104 degrees. Technically, that means the 30-mile-wide object is orbiting backwards. The team that found it gave it the name Drac, based on the myth that Dracula could climb walls.

14. Drac was found in the Kuiper Belt.

The Kuiper Belt is an area of ​​our solar system beyond Neptune containing many icy objects; this is also where Pluto is located.

15. Neptune has a moon that looks a lot like Pluto.

Triton is probably one of those icy Kuiper Belt objects that at one point got trapped by Neptune’s gravity and have been in orbit ever since. Triton has a few other distinguishing features: it orbits Neptune in the opposite direction of the planet’s rotation, and it has bursting geysers.

16. Mercury retrograde is a matter of perspective.

There is no evidence connecting what the planets do with human activities, but people have blamed Mercury retrograde for their problems since around the end of the 19th century. When Mercury is retrograde, it appears to be receding for people on Earth. It’s just a matter of perspective. Mercury takes 88 terrestrial days to rotate the sun, while the Earth takes 365. Thus, when Mercury passes us, between the Earth and the sun, it seems to recede. It’s like when you’re driving fast and a car next to you feels like it’s backing up or slowing down.

17. Pluto was probably not named after Pluto the Disney character.

Some claim that Pluto was named after Walt Disney’s dog that appeared in 1930, the same year the dwarf planet was discovered. But in the 1930 film The picnic, the character was called Rover. The dog was not known as Pluto until 1931, the year after the planet was named. Still, there’s a fun little coincidence that connects Pluto the dog and Pluto the planet: In 2015, NASA released new photos of the planet, which revealed a bright area that some said looked like an image of the planet. dog’s head.

18. A dwarf planet in our solar system has also been a planet and an asteroid.

Pluto’s dwarf planet, Ceres, occupies about 25% of the mass of the main asteroid belt, located between Mars and Jupiter. In the 19th century, Ceres was considered a planet. Then it was demoted to an asteroid. Finally, in 2006, it was upgraded to a dwarf planet.

19. There are millions of asteroids in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

They can range from less than 33 feet (10 meters) to 329 miles (530 kilometers) long. But NASA maintains a permanent list of asteroids that are likely to strike Earth over the next century, along with the likelihood of them happening. They keep a list because they don’t want to miss anything… and by something we mean an asteroid.

20. Two of Saturn’s moons have water.

Saturn’s moon Enceladus has an entire ocean of salt water. In 2018, researchers discovered complex organic molecules on Enceladus, which is a sign that it may or may not contain life. That is why there are proposals to send a mission there to find out.

Saturn has a second moon with water: Titan, which also contains chemicals containing carbon, another promising sign for life. Any place that contains both water and chemicals containing carbon is tempting for researchers looking for life in other places in space.

21. From an Earthman’s point of view, Mars has pretty extreme temperatures.

Compared to the Earth’s average temperature of 57 ° F, Mars is -81 ° F. At the poles, a temperature of -225 ° F degrees is possible. There has also been no rain on the planet for millions of years.

22. The highest known volcano is on Mars.

Olympus Mons is estimated to be 16 miles high, which means it’s basically three Everest Mountains. It probably formed around 350 million years ago, but its last eruption was 2 million years ago.

23. We have billions of comets in our solar system.

They are mainly found in the Kuiper Belt and the Oort Cloud. A comet is made of ice and rock until it gets close enough to the sun for the outside to turn into a cloud of gas and dust. This is when the distinctive tail is formed. In 2014, a probe landed for the first time on a comet. Here’s an interesting piece of information gathered during this mission: Due to its surface chemistry, a comet smells of cat pee, rotten eggs, and bitter almonds. So maybe think twice before picking up some comet scented candles.

24. many of these facts would still be unknown without space exploration.

Take the Cassini spacecraft, which was launched in 1997 and kept collecting data until 2017. In those 20 years, it has traveled 4.9 billion kilometers and carried out 2.5 million orders. . Most of that time was spent around Saturn doing everything from taking photos and collecting data to analyzing samples. He sampled Saturn’s atmosphere and nearby dust grains, and was even the first to take a sample from an ocean in outer space (that of Enceladus). Cassini was sent into Saturn’s atmosphere to disintegrate on September 15, 2017. At a press conference, Cassini’s program director Earl Maize said, “Until the end, the spacecraft has did everything we asked.

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