Our Solar System Jeff Wallace

Overview of the Planets

Terrerstrial Planets

  • Earth like planets
  • Terra means Earth in latin
  • Made up of rocks or metals with a hard surface
  • Molten heavy cores
  • Few moons
  • Topological features

Examples of Terrestrial Planets

  • Mercury
  • Venus
  • Earth
  • Mars

Jovian Planets

  • Composed mostly of gases such as hydrogen and helium
  • Relatively small rocky core
  • Usually very large in size
  • Large gravitational pull
  • Has multiple moons

Examples of Jovian Planets

  • Jupiter
  • Saturn
  • Uranus
  • Neptune
Formation of the Solar System
  • Scientists think the Solar System was formed from a giant, rotating cloud of gas and dust known as the Solar Nebula
  • As the nebula collapsed because of gravity, it rotated faster and flattened into a disk
  • Most of the material was pulled toward center to from the Sun
  • Other particles within the disk collided and stuck together to form asteroid-sized objects called planetesimals
  • Some combined to become asteroids, comets, moons, and planets
  • Solar wind from the Sun was so powerful that it swept away most of the lighter elements such as hydrogen and helium
  • The solar winds were much weaker in the outer regions, resulting in gas giants made up mostly of hydrogen and helium


  • Named after Roman swift-footed messenger god
  • Mercury's surface temperature is 840 degrees Fahrenheit (450 degrees Celsius)
  • No real atmosphere to entrap any heat at night temperatures can plummet to more than -275 degrees Fahrenheit (-170 degrees Celsius)
  • A temperature swing of more than 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit (600 degrees Celsius) the greatest in the solar system
  • Slightly larger than Earth’s moon
  • Water and ice was discovered in craters around its North pole, where regions may be shaded from the heat of the sun
  • Mercury is the second densest planet after Earth
  • Core is roughly 2,200 to 2,400 miles (3,600 to 3,800 km) wide, or about 75% of the planet’s diameter
  • Mercury’s year is only 88 Earth days
  • It takes 59 Earth days to rotate on its axis


  • Named after the Roman goddess of love
  • Venus is the hottest world in the Solar System
  • Its thick atmosphere traps heat in a runaway version of the greenhouse effect
  • Surface temperatures on Venus reach 870 degrees Fahrenheit (465 degrees Celsius)
  • Venus’ atmosphere consists of 96.5% carbon dioxide, 3.5% nitrogen, and minor amounts of sulfur dioxide, argon, water, carbon monoxide, helium, and neon
  • Venus takes 243 Earth days to rotate on its axis
  • Venus rotates on the axis in the opposite way that most planets rotate
  • The venusian year is about 225 Earth days long
  • Average distance from the sun 67,237,910 miles (108,208,930 km)
  • Magnetic field is .000015 times of Earth’s field


  • Mars has the same amount of dry land as Earth
  • Has the tallest mountain (17 miles high) and the deepest and longest valley (6 miles deep, runs east west for 2,500 miles) in the Solar System
  • Average temperature of Mars is about -80 degrees Fahrenheit (-60 degrees Celsius)
  • The atmosphere is about 100 times less dense than Earth's
  • Mars has the largest dust storms in the Solar System
  • Mars’ axis is tilted like Earth’s giving the planet seasons
  • 95.32% of Mars’ atmosphere is carbon dioxide, 2.7% nitrogen, 1.6% argon, .13% oxygen, and .08% carbon monoxide
  • No global magnetic field
  • Likely has a solid core composed of iron, nickel, and sulfur
  • We are looking to send people to Mars in 2030


  • More than twice as massive as all the other planets combined
  • If it was about 80 times more massive it would have became a star
  • Jupiter can hold more than 1,300 Earths
  • The bands on Jupiter are created by strong east-west winds in the upper atmosphere these winds travel from 400 mph (650 kph)
  • The Great Red Spot is a great hurricane-like storm is more than 300 years old and at its widest spot it is three times the diameter of Earth
  • Its edge spins counterclockwise around its center at about 225 mph (360 kph)
  • Jupiter spins faster than any other planet, a complete spin on its axis is under 10 hours
  • Jupiter’s magnetic field is nearly 20,000 times stronger than Earth’s
  • Jupiter has at least 63 moons
  • Jupiter’s gravity has helped shape the fate of our Solar System


  • Saturn is big enough to hold more than 760 Earths
  • Saturn is roughly 95 times Earth’s mass
  • Saturn spins faster than any other planet except Jupiter completing a rotation every 10-and-a-half hours
  • Saturn’s atmosphere is made up of 96.3% molecular hydrogen, 3.25% helium, minor amounts of methane, ammonia, hydrogen deuteride, ethane, ammonia ice aerosols, water ice aerosols, ammonia hydrosulfide aerosols
  • Saturn might have a core between 10 to 20 times as massive as Earth
  • Saturn has at least 62 moons
  • Saturn’s largest moon is Titan which is slightly larger than Mercury
  • Galileo Galilei was the first to see Saturn’s rings in 1610
  • Saturn’s largest ring spans up to 200 times the diameter of the planet
  • The largest ring can fit a billion Earths in it


  • Blue-green in colour
  • Called ice giant since 80% or more of its mass is made up of a fluid mix of water, methane, and ammonia ices
  • Uranus orbits the sun on its side
  • Uranus’ seasons are 20 years long
  • Uranus’ atmosphere is made up of 82.5% hydrogen, 15.2% helium, 2.3% methane
  • Axial tilt is 97.77 degrees
  • It orbits the sun in 84 Earth years
  • Uranus has two sets of rings discovered after Saturn’s were discovered
  • Uranus has 27 known moons
  • NASA’s Voyager 2 was the first and as yet only spacecraft to visit Uranus


  • Neptune is often called an ice giant since it possesses a thick, slushy fluid mix of water, ammonia and methane
  • Neptune's winds can reach up to 1,500 mph (2,400 kph)
  • Neptune goes around the sun once every 165 Earth years and completed its first orbit, since being discovered, in 2011
  • Every 248 years Pluto moves inside Neptune’s orbit for 20 years or so
  • Neptune is the farthest planet from the sun
  • Neptune’s magnetic field is 27 times more powerful than Earth’s
  • Neptune has 14 known moons
  • Neptune’s rings are not uniform but possess bright thick clumps of dust called arcs
  • Neptune’s mantle is made up of water, ammonia and methane ices
  • Neptune’s core is made up of iron and magnesium-silicate


  • Pluto has a diameter of 1,473 miles
  • Pluto has mountains as high as 11,000 feet (3,500 metres)
  • Methane and nitrogen ice cover much of the surface of Pluto
  • Pluto’s elliptical orbit can take it more than 49 times as far out from the sun as Earth
  • It takes Pluto 248 Earth years to orbit the Sun
  • Pluto’s atmosphere is made up of Methane and nitrogen
  • Pluto’s atmosphere extends as far as 1,000 (1,600 km) above the surface
  • It is unknown whether Pluto has a magnetic field
  • Pluto probably consists of a mixture of 70% rock and 30% water ice
  • Pluto has 5 moons
Minor Members of the Solar System


  • Leftovers from the formation of our solar system
  • Asteroids can reach as large as Ceres which is 580 miles ( 940 km) across
  • All asteroids are irregularly shaped
  • Iron meteorites are made up of 91% iron, 8.5% nickel, and .6% cobalt
  • Stony meteorites are made up of 36% oxygen, 26% iron, 18% silicon, 14% magnesium, 1.5% aluminum 1.4% nickel, and 1.3% calcium


  • Mostly made up of ice and dust coated with dark organic material
  • Comets leave a trail of debris behind them that can lead to meteor showers on Earth
  • Comets are named after their discoverer
  • Comets are also referred to as “hairy stars”
  • Halley’s Comet is the most famous comet in the world, it becomes visible every 76 years when it nears the sun

Kuiper Belt

  • The belt is similar to the asteroid between Mars and Jupiter
  • Pluto was the first true Kuiper Belt Object to be seen
  • Planet Nine orbits the sun at a distance that is 20 times farther out than the orbit of Neptune
  • Eris was discovered in 2005 and was classified as a dwarf planet along with Ceres and Pluto
  • The Kuiper Belt spans from 20 to 50 times Earth’s distance from the sun or 2.5 to 4.5 billion miles (4.5 to 7.4 billion kilometers)


Choi, Charles Q. "Asteroids – Facts and Information about Asteroids." Space.com. Space.com, 21 Nov. 2014. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

Choi, Charles Q. "Comets: Facts About The 'Dirty Snowballs' of Space." Space.com. Space.com, 15 Nov. 2014. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

Choi, Charles Q. "Mars Facts: Life, Water and Robots on the Red Planet." Space.com. Space.com, 4 Nov. 2014. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

Choi, Charles Q. "Planet Jupiter: Facts About Its Size, Moons and Red Spot."Space.com. Space.com, 14 Nov. 2014. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

Choi, Charles Q. "Planet Mercury: Facts About the Planet Closest to the Sun."Space.com. Space.com, 30 Nov. 2016. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

Choi, Charles Q. "Planet Neptune: Facts About Its Orbit, Moons & Rings." Space.com. Space.com, 25 Nov. 2014. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

Choi, Charles Q. "Planet Saturn: Facts About Saturn's Rings, Moons & Size."Space.com. Space.com, 17 Nov. 2014. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

Choi, Charles Q. "Planet Uranus: Facts About Its Name, Moons and Orbit."Space.com. Space.com, 18 Nov. 2014. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

Choi, Charles Q. "Planet Venus Facts: A Hot, Hellish & Volcanic Planet." Space.com. Space.com, 4 Nov. 2014. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

Choi, Charles Q. "Pluto: Facts & Information About the Dwarf Planet Pluto."Space.com. Space.com, 22 July 2015. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

Choi, Charles Q. "Solar System Facts: A Guide to Things Orbiting Our Sun."Space.com. Space.com, 22 Jan. 2016. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.

Gammon, Katharine. "Terrestrial Planets: Definition & Facts About the Inner Planets."Space.com. Space.com, 10 Aug. 2015. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

Howell, Elizabeth. "Gas Giants: Facts About the Outer Planets." Space.com. Space.com, 25 Aug. 2015. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

Redd, Nola Taylor. "Kuiper Belt Objects: Facts about the Kuiper Belt & KBOs."Space.com. Space.com, 22 Jan. 2016. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

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