Facts you probably didn’t know about our Solar System
Ever since the beginning of civilization, the curious nature inherent only to mankind has been one of the main catalysts of it’s progress. Through centuries, man has been on a mission to understand the world around himself better, and to tailor it to his needs. The results of that are the accomplishments we see around us every day, across all walks of life, on each step we take, everywhere we go, even if sometimes we aren’t not aware of it. Countless technological inventions and advancements have made our lives easier and simpler, or at least helped to shoulder the burden carried by the previous generations. Mankind has been on a neverending quest for knowledge and information, a fact that is best mirrored in its fascination with: space.
On this occasion, we won’t be travelling to distant galaxies. Instead, we will stay within the limits of our own Solar System. Many of you already know a great deal about it’s basic properties, or at the very least, can name the planets that belong to it. That may be so, but there are still so many fascinating facts that have escaped us, and we’ll take a much closer look at some them.
Eight Planets and New Solar System Designations
Source: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod; Credit: International Astronomical Union
1. Jupiter has the largest ocean of any planet in our Solar system.
Being five times further from the sun than the Earth, it has kept a very high ammount of helium and hydrogen after it was formed. Moreover, those two elements are the building blocks of Jupiter. Studies have shown that not only is this the largest ocean known to us, within the Solar System, but also the deepest: approximately 40,000 kilometers deep, which roughly matches the Earth’s circumference!
2. Earth is not the only astronomical object in our Solar system to have a liquid ocean.
Surprisingly, the honor goes to one of Jupiter’s moons, Europa. Although covered with ice, it is suspected to have a liquid ocean beneath its surface, at a depth of about 100 kilometers. Some evidence suggests that Europa’s oceans contain magnesium chloride, a salt that can be found in Earth’s oceans as well. This makes Europa the first place to explore in the search for evidence of life, outside of our planet.
3. Saturn isn’t the only planet with rings.
Of course, the first thing that springs to our minds when somebody mentions Saturn, is the image of its rings, which usually consist of rocks, ice, dust, and various other particles. All of the larger planets also have rings around them, including Jupiter and Neptune, even though they cannot be seen from Earth. In fact, even Uranus has rings, nine bright ones to be exact, and several other fainter ones, none of which can be seen due to the distance.
Of course, all of this goes to show how immense and vast space actually is, given that our Solar System is considered small in terms of size, by astronomical standards. That may be a good comparison of how small the volume of our knowledge is, when it comes to space, but that is also the reason it will never stop fascinating us.