A View of the Past, Present, and Future
The Solar System was formed within the Milky Way galaxy about 4.5 billion years ago when a molecular cloud of interstellar elements began to spin and heat up to the point that a gravitational implosion sparked the process of thermonuclear fusion.
The sun began to glow at the center of a swirling disk of debris. Gas, dust, metal, and rocks of every shape and size began to collide, eventually forming the four terrestrial planets, two gas giants, and the two ice giants of the solar system.
The Terrestrial Planets
Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars
The Earth was a mass of molten rock and metal for about a billion years. Heat from the iron core convected through a surrounding layer of molten rock where it interacted with metals in the earth’s crust, creating a magnetic field that spans from pole to pole … read instride
The fourth planet from the sun is about half the size of Earth, and its rocky terrain encompasses some extreme heights and depths. A light dusting of iron oxide on the surface causes Mars to appear fiery red in contrast to the bright white stars in it’s pathway on the ecliptic … read instride
The Gas Giants
Saturn and Jupiter
The bright rings of Saturn make the planet the most recognizable in the solar system. They revolve at high speeds around Saturn’s equator, expanding 200,000 kilometers in width yet only 90 meters in height … read instride
The ever-changing surface of Jupiter appears divided as storms swirl within “belts” or “zones” parallel to the equator. The “great red spot” is a cyclonic storm that has been raging for possibly hundreds of years … read instride
The Ice Giants
Uranus and Neptune
Uranus and Neptune
The “ice giant” planets, Uranus and Neptune, have much in common. Their distance from earth makes them difficult to explore, but with viewing equipment they can be seen orbiting across the ecliptic with the terrestrial and “gas giant” planets… read instride