Our Solar System

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Mercury

Mercury is a small, rocky planet. Scientists think that there may be volcanic activity on Mercury. The temperature on Mercury ranges from 90 K to 700 K. Unlike many of our nine planets, Mercury has no moons.

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Mercury
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Venus

Venus is a small, rocky planet blanketed in a thick layer of yellowish clouds. These clouds are not made of water. Instead, they are formed of poisonous sulfuric acid. Venus' surface is very hot - about 400 degrees Celsius. Even though Venus is very cloudy, it's simply too hot for rain to form. The first spacecraft to visit Venus was Mariner 2 in 1962. Venus has no moons.

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Venus
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Earth

Earth is a small, rocky planet which supports a variety of life. The Earth is 4.5 to 4.6 billion years old, but the oldest known rocks are less than 4 billion years old. Rocks older than 3 billion years are rare. The oldest fossils of living organisms are less than 3.9 billion years old. The Earth is orbited by one moon.

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Earth
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Mars

Mars is a small, rocky planet which is cold and lifeless. The first spacecraft to visit Mars was Mariner 4 in 1965. Mars has permanent ice caps at both poles made up mostly of solid carbon dioxide. Very strong winds and vast dust storms sometimes blow through the entire planet for months. Mars has two tiny moons which orbit very close to the surface. Their names are Phobos and Deimos.

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Mars
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Jupiter

Jupiter is a giant gas planet which is made up of about 90% hydrogen and 10% helium. Jupiter was first visited by the Pioneer 10 spacecraft in 1973. Jupiter is so big that you could cram 1,000 Earths inside of it. It is thought that Jupiter's "Great Red Spot" is a storm of swirling gas that has lasted for hundreds of years. Scientists are still unsure as to how such a storm could last for so long. Jupiter has 16 known moons! There are four large "Galilean" moons, and 12 small ones.

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Jupiter
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Saturn

Saturn is a giant gas planet which is made up of about 75% hydrogen and 25% helium. It's most famous for its thousands of beautiful rings. Saturn's rings are made up mostly of water ice, but they also include rocky particles with icy coatings. Saturn is so light that if it is placed in a pond big enough to hold it, it would float much like an ice cube does in a glass of water. Saturn has 18 known moons - more than any other planet! There may very well be several small ones yet to be discovered.

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Saturn
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Uranus

Uranus is a giant gas planet which is made up of mostly rock and various ices. Uranus has been visited by only one spacecraft, Voyager 2 on Jan 24 1986. Uranus spins differently from most planets. It seems to be tilted "sideways". Uranus has 15 known moons. It is likely that there are many more tiny moons within the rings.

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Uranus
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Neptune

Neptune is a giant gas planet which is most likely made up of various "ices" and rock. Almost everything we know about Neptune comes from this one visit. Depending on how far along Pluto is in its orbit (path around the Sun), Neptune can be either the eighth or ninth planet. Pluto's orbit is kind of tilted and it sometimes crosses in front of Neptune. When Pluto does this, Neptune is behind Pluto - hence, it is the ninth planet for a short time. Neptune has 8 known moons; 7 small ones and a large moon called "Triton."

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Neptune
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Pluto

Pluto: Pluto is a small, icy "dwarf planet". Scientists are still unsure as to exactly what it's made of. Pluto has not yet been visited by a spacecraft. Pluto has one moon. It's called "Charon."

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Pluto
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