The closest some of us ever came regarding the solar system was the Styrofoam replica we did in elementary school. While the whole elementary school experience was great, it is fun to go deeper into issues surrounding the solar system. Get yourself strapped with your seatbelt as this article walks you through the top 10 unusual solar system facts that were found recently.
1 Mercury isn’t the hottest planet
Assuming that mercury was the hottest planet because of its proximity to the sun has been the order of the day. It was only typical for scientists to assume such because let’s face it, mercury is less than half the earth’s distance to the sun. And Venus sits about 30 million miles on the average from the sun. This is much farther than Mercury, and as such we all believed that mercury was going to be the hottest. Plenty thanks to some new studies by our space friends, Venus has been acknowledged to be the hottest planet. The reason is simple – unlike Mercury, Venus has a very thick atmosphere that is 100 times the size of earth’s atmosphere, allowing it to conserve most of the heat energy it gets from the Sun.
2 The U.S. is bigger than Pluto in diameter
The greatest distance across the U.S from one end to another is approximately 2900 miles. With much help from the new horizon spacecraft three years ago, we are now aware that Pluto measures about 1473 miles from one end to another. Well, we have all known Pluto to be the smallest planet. What most people don’t realize just yet is that the status of Pluto has been changed from a normal planet to a dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union.
3 What you didn’t know about asteroids
We see it all the time – spaceships colliding with asteroids in Hollywood Sci-fi movies. But is this the actual position of things? In reality, the only asteroid belt exists between Mars and Jupiter. Though it seems to contain tens of thousands, or probably more, asteroids, they are so well-spaced that it will be difficult to have anything like a collision occurring. So, as opposed to what we used to know about how asteroids are obstructing space missions, we now know that the chances of coming in contact and colliding with one another are as slim as you can already imagine.
4 Volcanoes are possible with water
Talk about volcanoes and people instantly think of Mount Vesuvius, Mount St. Helens, or the lava caldera of Mount Loa. And you want to say volcanoes are only possible with molten rocks or what is known as magma. Right? Well, you got it wrong again. In stark contrast, a volcano can form when an underground accumulation of a hot fluid, gas or mineral erupts to the surface of a planet or any non-stellar astronomical body. The exact constituent of the mineral can vary significantly. On earth, it could be magma, in Jupiter, it is mostly sulfur and sulfur dioxide, while on Saturn’ moon and Neptune’ moon the sole constituent is ice, frozen water.
5 The edge of the solar system is well-beyond Pluto
With the old knowledge we got from school, it is straightforward for us to assume the edge of the solar system extending out of the planet Pluto. If you belong to that class of individuals, then it is high time you made a U-turn, as numerous objects have been spotted orbiting the Sun at a distance much farther than that of the dwarf planet, Pluto. They could be referred to as Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) or Trans-Neptune objects (TNOs).
6 Almost everything on planet earth is rare elements
Most of the elements that constitute the earth’s composition are oxygen, iron, magnesium, silicon, nickel, sulfur, aluminum, calcium, and sodium. While it is true that these elements do exist in the universe, they do only exist as trace elements. Their existence is greatly overshadowed by the abundance of elements like hydrogen and helium which makes it safe to state that earth is made up of mostly rare elements.
7 Mars rocks are present here on earth
The chemical analysis of certain meteorites that were found in places such as the Sahara desert, Antarctica, and some other areas have been shown by various scientific methods to have come from Mars. For instance, some of these objects comprise gases that are exclusive to the Martian atmosphere. These substances may have found their way to earth due to some blast that was caused by an asteroid collision with the planet Mars.
8 Jupiter hosts the biggest ocean (an ocean of hydrogen and helium)
Revolving around cold spaces with a distance that is five times farther from the sun compared to earth, Jupiter ended up having a much higher level of hydrogen and helium than that of the earth. Interestingly, Jupiter is made up of more hydrogen and helium. With the help of computer models, scientists have established that not only does Jupiter have the largest ocean in the solar system, it also has a depth that measures up to 25000 miles.
9 Even small bodies have moons
It was a wrong thought that only objects as big as planets could have moons or natural satellites. Back at the time, it was also assumed that the small bodies in the solar system lacked the right amount of gravity to hold a moon in place. The belief has been debunked since 1993 by the Galileo Probe, for moons have been seen orbiting many other smaller planets.
10 We are in the Sun
We usually assume the sun as the big object or hot ball of light 150 million kilometers away. In reality, the sun’s atmosphere extends far beyond its actual surface. So, our planet is believed to orbit the sun within its atmosphere. We see this proof whenever gusts of the solar wind give rise to Northern and Southern Lights. That way, it is safe to say – we are living inside the Sun.