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Intelligence The Universe

Our Solar System

We have all learnt about the solar system in school and yet… it all seems so out of this world.

A world beyond Earth… how does that look like?

The solar system – the planetary system we call home – orbits a star (sol or sun) in an outer spiral arm of the Milky Way Galaxy.

It is a massive space filled with spectacular landscapes like the cracks of Jovian moon Europa, apocalyptic storms on Jupiter & Neptune, the volcanic moon of Io, fascinating ice giant Uranus, the spectacular sights of Saturn’s 7 rings, the gigantic ice geysers on Enceladus and more. 

The complexity of the different environments in regards to temperatures, pressures and materials makes the solar system to an interesting topic to learn more about the secrets of the universe.

The Sun is the center of our solar system and makes up 99,8% of the mass of the entire solar system. Its gravity holds our solar system with everything in it (8 planets, thousands of asteroids, 5 dwarf planets, millions of comets and other debris) together. See cover picture (NASA/JPL – distances are fictional)

Photo credit: NASA / JPL – Caltech / GSFC / JAXA

The Sun is hot like hell (5,500 degrees at the surface) and yet this yellow dwarf star is the main reason why life on Earth is possible.  Our Blue Planet is orbiting in third position and located at the perfect distance (approx. 150 million km = 1 Astronomical Unit) from the Sun, our source of light and warmth.

Venus – the second planet from the Sun – has an average temperature of 471°C while on the fourth rock from the Sun (planet Mars) it’s about 74°C colder than on Earth.

Photo credit: NASA Goddard

The 8 planets (the 9th planet Pluto was downgraded to a dwarf planet) in the right order:

From the Sun → Mercury – Venus – Earth – Mars – Jupiter – Saturn (10 AU) – Uranus – Neptune

At a distance of 100 Astronomical Units the Heliosphere (Helios is Greek for sun) ends, and Interstellar Space begins. The enormous Oort Cloud – a cloud containing mostly rocks and ice – is located between 3000 – 100.000 Astronomical Units from the Sun. The closest star outside our Solar System is Alpha Centauri C (Proxima Centauri) in the Alpha Centauri star system.

Our solar system is unique and being able to live on planet Earth is nothing more than a miracle!

The connection and interactions between the Sun and Earth drive the seasons, ocean currents, weather, climate, radiation belts and the polar lights.

Our atmosphere protects us from the solar wind and from meteor impacts.

If you ever wondered how Earth looks from space… this is it:

Photo credit: NASA / JPL

It took billions of years to create the world we live in today.  Since well over 2000 years people know the Earth is ‘round’ … many centuries we’ve been looking up to the sky wondering what’s out there… not even 1 century ago astronauts started traveling in Space… today we use satellites and other tools to study the everchanging Blue Marble with white swirls… you know where I’m heading to? 

Don’t take Earth for granted, don’t take this picture for granted and certainly don’t take life for granted!

Let’s do our best to protect planet Earth because there is nowhere else to go……… at least not anytime soon.

Ventures by Sabrina

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