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Pictures of the Planets

planets of our Solar System

planets of our Solar System


Mercury seen by Mariner 10. Image credit: NASA

Mercury seen by Mariner 10. Image credit: NASA

Named after the winged messenger of the gods, Mercury is a small planet that rotates quickly. It is a barren planet that has a surface that ranges between two extremes – frigid and burning temperatures – because  it has no atmosphere to hold in the heat when the planet is facing away from the Sun.


Venus captured by Magellan.

Venus is an interesting planet with the hottest temperatures of any planet in our Solar System at more than 460°C. Some astronomers actually believed that Venus used to be like Earth with oceans and a habitable environment until the planet’s atmosphere underwent an out of control greenhouse effect. The massive amounts of carbon dioxide in its atmosphere is mostly responsible for the planet’s raging temperatures.


Planet Earth seen from Messenger. Image credit: NASA

Planet Earth seen from Messenger. Image credit: NASA

Earth is the densest planet in our Solar System as well as the fifth largest planet. Not only is 70% of the Earth’s surface covered with water, but the planet is also in the perfect spot – in the center of the hypothetical habitable zone – to support life.


Mars. Credit: NASA

Mars. Credit: NASA

Roughly half the size of Earth, Mars is famous for its red color and the speculation it has sparked about life on other planets. The red color is caused by iron oxide – rust – on the planet’s surface.


Jupiter Credit: NASA

Jupiter Credit: NASA

Jupiter’s size is almost unbelievable. It is possible to fit 1321 Earths inside of Jupiter. Despite its size, Jupiter is not very dense. The planet is comprised almost entirely  of gas with what astronomers believe is a liquid metal core. The only reason it is the most massive planet is because it is so much larger than any of the other planets.


An image of Saturn from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, clearly showing the 'geographic' South Pole of the planet (at the center of the circle of clouds, lower left). The bulk rotation of the planet is around an axis passing through the South Pole and Saturn's clouds (of ammonia ice) are organised into dark 'belts' and light 'zones' that are generally aligned with lines of latitude, indicating the influence of the planet's rotation on its meteorology.

Saturn is best known for its ring system, which is composed of rocks, dust, and other materials. However, the planet is also the second largest in our Solar System. Our view of Saturn’s rings is always changing and sometimes they seem to disappear in the planet’s orbit around the Sun.


Uranus, seen by Voyager 2. Image credit: NASA/JPL

Uranus, seen by Voyager 2. Image credit: NASA/JPL

Here’s a picture of Uranus taken by Voyager 2. Uranus is an ice giant meaning it has more “ices,” such as methane and ammonia, in its atmosphere than other gas giants like Jupiter have. Ice giants are a subcategory of gas giants. The methane is also what gives Uranus its blue color.


Neptune from Voyager 2. Image credit: NASA/JPL

Neptune from Voyager 2. Image credit: NASA/JPL

Neptune is also an ice giant. All of the gas giants have intense storms, but Neptune has the fastest winds of any planet in our Solar System. The winds on Neptune can reach up to 24,000 kilometers per hour. In comparison, the top winds on Earth only reach a little more than 250 kilometers per hour in the strongest hurricanes.

Universe Today has an article on interesting facts about the planets and interesting facts about the Solar System.

If you are looking for more information, try NASA’s Solar System exploration page and an overview of the Solar System.

Astronomy Cast has episodes on all of the planets including Mercury.

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