The Solar System

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THE SOLAR SYSTEM

PLANETS A planet is a large, round heavenly body that orbits a star and shines with light reflected from the star. We know of eight planets that orbit the sun in our solar system. Since 1992, astronomers have also discovered many planets orbiting other stars . World book

MERCURY The smallest planet in the solar system and the one nearest to the sun. Its orbit about the sun takes 88 days to complete, at a mean distance of almost 36,000,000 miles. Mercury goes around the sun about four times while the earth is going around once. [< Latin Mercurius ] World Book

VENUS Venus is the sixth largest planet in the solar system and the second in distance from the sun. Venus is the brightest planet in the solar system and the one that comes closest to the earth. World Book EARTH Age: At least 4 1/2 billion years Mass: 6,600,000,000,000,000,000,000 (6.6 sextillion) tons (6.0 sextillion metric tons). Surface features: Highest land —Mount Everest, 29,035 feet (8,850 meters) above sea level. Lowest land —shore of Dead Sea, about 1,310 feet (399 meters) below sea). Temperature: Highest, 136 °F (58 °C) at Al Aziziyah, Libya. Lowest, -128.6 °F (-89.6 °C) at Vostok Station in Antarctica. Average surface temperature, 59 °F (15 °C). Chemical makeup of the earth's crust (in percent of the crust's weight): oxygen 46.6, silicon 27.7, aluminum 8.1, iron 5.0, calcium 3.6, sodium 2.8, potassium 2.6, magnesium 2.0, and other elements totaling 1.6. MARS The Mars Odyssey probe, shown in this illustration orbiting Mars, found evidence of water ice beneath the surface of Mars in 2002. The probe, launched in 2001, also analyzed the chemical composition of the planet's surface. World Book Jupiter Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system. Its diameter is 88,846 miles (142,984 kilometers), more than 11 times that of Earth, and about one-tenth that of the sun. It would take more than 1,000 Earths to fill up the volume of the giant planet. When viewed...
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