Prepare to have your mind blown! 71 facts about space, the planets of our solar system and the universe.
1. One year on Mercury lasts 88 Earth days
2. NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft crashed into Mercury on 30 April 2015 making a crater approximately 16 meters wide on the planet’s surface
3. Mercury is the smallest of all planets in the Solar System and is only marginally bigger than Earth’s moon
4. Four billion years ago Mercury was struck by a 100-kilometer wide asteroid. The resulting impact was equivalent to a trillion megaton bombs, leaving behind a huge impact crater roughly 1,550 kilometers wide.
5. Craters on Mercury are named after famous artists and writers
6. Mercury is the fastest planet in our solar system. It travels at an average of 172,000 km per hour (107,000 miles per hour) — about 65,000 kph (40,000 mph) faster than Earth.
7. Venus is the second brightest object in the sky as seen from Earth – after the moon
8. Venus rotates in the opposite direction to the other planets of the Solar System
9. Venus used to have oceans but these have been evaporated as the planet heated up due to a greenhouse effect
10. A day on Venus is longer than a year – one day takes 243 Earth days and one year takes 225
11. More than 40 spacecraft from Earth have explored Venus
12. There are 167 large volcanoes that are over 100 km across on Venus
13. On Venus, you can walk fast enough to keep the sunset in the same place and watch sunset forever just by walking
14. The average temperature on Venus is more than 480 degrees Celsius (about 900 degrees Fahrenheit)
15. On Mars, a human will weigh only 37% of what they would on Earth and will be able to jump nearly three times higher
16. In Chinese Mars is called HuoXing, which translates as “fire star”
17. Mars is usually the closest planet to Earth, but sometimes Venus can be closer due to orbits
18. Mars has the largest dust storms in the solar system that can last for months and cover the entire planet.
19. Mars’s moon Phobos is slowly moving closer and will crash into it or break apart in about 50 million years
20. If you could stand at the Martian equator, the temperature at your feet would be like a warm spring day, but at your head it would be freezing cold!
21. The largest canyon system in the solar system is Valles Marineris on Mars. It’s more than 4,000 kilometers (3,000 miles) long — enough to stretch from California to New York. It is nine times as long and four times as deep as Earth’s Grand Canyon!
22. Jupiter has 69 moons
23. Jupiter’s moon Ganymede is the biggest moon in the Solar System
24. 1321 Earths could fit into Jupiter
25. The ESA’s Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer (JUICE) mission is planned to take off for Jupiter’s moons of Europa and Ganymede in 2022 to explore for life.
26. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is a huge storm that has raged for over 350 years.
27. Jupiter has the shortest day of all the planets – 9 hours and 55 minutes.
28. Saturn’s rings span up to 120,700 km outward but are extremely thin with an average thickness of just 10 meters.
29. Nobody knows what formed Saturn’s rings but one theory is that they are the remnants of a destroyed moon
30. Saturn is the only planet in our solar system that is less dense than water. It could float in a bathtub if anybody could build a bathtub big enough
31. Saturn has 62 moons – two of which are strong candidates for harboring life
32. Saturn’s moon Titan is the only moon in the Solar System to have an atmosphere of its own.
33. Saturn’s moons work to confine its rings and prevent them from spreading out.
34. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft spent 13 years around Saturn before crashing into the planet
35. Saturn’s moon Enceladus may also have life in warm underground seas. This revelation was made when Nasa’s Cassini spacecraft analyzed a plume of spray that shot up from the moon and in it they discovered hydrogen which could potentially support the life of microbes on the seafloor
36. It takes 29.4 Earth years for Saturn to orbit the Sun
37. The north pole of Uranus goes through seasons where it can get no sunlight for 21 years
38. Uranus spins so fast it bulges in the center
39. Uranus has 27 moons, some of which are named after characters from Shakespeare
40. NASA’s Voyager 2 mission was sent to explore Uranus in 1977 and after was sent off into deep space and is estimated to 16 billion km away by now
41. Uranus hits the coldest temperatures of any of the planets in the Solar System
42. Neptune’s winds are the fastest in the solar system, reaching 2,575 kilometers per hour (1,600 miles per hour)
43. Neptune has 14 moons. The biggest of these is Triton, which is considered a candidate for harboring some kind of life in the Solar System
44. It takes nearly 165 years for Neptune to orbit the Sun
45. Pluto used to the considered the ninth planet of the Solar System but was downgraded to a ‘dwarf planet’ in 2006 when a new definition of “planet” was agreed internationally.
46. Pluto has five moons of its own
47. It is just one-sixth the size of Earth and smaller than our moon.
48. Pluto is about two-thirds rock and one-third ice.
49. It is thought to have ice volcanoes that spew out a cold mixture of ice, nitrogen, and methane.
50. An 11-year-old British schoolgirl named Pluto in 1930
51. Sometimes Pluto is inside the orbit of Neptune, therefore, closer to Earth and the Sun than the eight planet
52. Pluto orbits the Sun every 248 years
53. Pluto’s real name is ‘134340 Pluto’.
54. Planet Nine is a large planet thought to exist in the outer reaches of our Solar System. We have never seen it, but its presence would explain a number of other phenomena, such as the orbits of certain objects beyond Neptune at the edge of the Solar System.
55. If it exists, it could be massive – perhaps as big as ten times the size of Earth.
56. It may be responsible for tilting the whole Solar System to one side
57. If confirmed to be real, it will be renamed and probably given a name connected to Greek or Roman mythology like the other planets of the Solar System
58. 24 people have visited the moon
59. Craters at the Moon’s south pole may be the frostiest locale in the entire solar system. In the permanently shadowed crater floors, “daytime” temperatures may never rise above minus 238 degrees Celsius (minus 397 degrees Fahrenheit).
60. The Moon is moving approximately 3.8 cm away from Earth every year.
61. If you could lump together all the thousands of known asteroids in our solar system, their total mass wouldn’t even equal 10 percent of the mass of Earth’s Moon
62. The galaxy that we are part of – the Milky Way – is made up of up to 400 billion stars
63. If there were 8 planets around each star in the Milky Way (like there are in our Solar System), this would be 3.2 trillion planets
64. There are over two trillion galaxies in the observable universe
65. For every grain of sand on every beach on Earth, there are 10,000 stars in the universe
66. 526 astronauts from 38 countries have gone into space
67. We have over 1,300 satellites in space right now
68. The radio signal that a spacecraft uses to contact Earth has about the same power as a refrigerator light bulb
69. NASA’s Opportunity rover was only planned to operate for 90 days but is still active today after more than 5000 days
70. Space X plans to eventually have taken over a million people to Mars by 2060
71. The James Webb Telescope is due to be launched into space in 2019 and will be able to see things that never before seen by mankind