Cosmic Chronicles: 40 Unforgettable Facts About Planets and their Moons – Part 2

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1Enceladus

Enceladus

The surface of Enceladus, the sixth major moon of Saturn, reflects 90% of the light that hits it, essentially making it a giant mirror.


2. Mercury is the closest planet to Earth (not Venus) and every other planet in the solar system most of the time.


3. Jupiter is a "cosmic vacuum cleaner." Its gravitational influence causes comets and asteroids to collide with it. The rate of impacts on Jupiter is about 2000-8000X higher than the rate on Earth. Without Jupiter, the probability of asteroid impacts with the inner planets would be much greater.


4. Uranus and Neptune are easy to spot in binoculars. Uranus might even look greenish, thanks to methane in the planet's atmosphere. Once a year, Uranus is barely bright enough to glimpse with the unaided eye.


5. "Pan" the second moon of Saturn, is irregularly shaped because it has accidentally captured some of Saturn's ring material.


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6Mercury Gravity

Mercury Gravity

You would weigh the same on Mercury as you would on Mars. Due to the much higher density of Mercury, the smaller planet has almost identical surface gravity to Mars.


7. Even though Jupiter is a massive planet, a day on Jupiter only lasts about 5 hours because it's rotating at 28,000 mph. By comparison, Earth rotates at around 1,000 mph.


8. The A and B rings of Saturn (the most visually prominent rings) are hundreds of thousands of kilometers wide, but only 5-15 and 10-30 meters thick, respectively.


9. One major concern of establishing human settlements on Mars is pregnancy. Members of the craft may likely not engage in sex due to their stressful and isolated environment, and it is still not fully known how the environment in a spacecraft would affect the development of a child aboard.


10. The planet Mercury, the closest planet to the sun, has a nighttime temperature of -280°F as it has no atmosphere to retain the 800°F temperature it reaches during the day.


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11Jupiter's Loud Red Spot

Jupiter's Loud Red Spot

Jupiter's Great Red Spot is so loud, that its acoustic sound waves heat the surrounding atmosphere to almost 2400 degrees Fahrenheit.


12. If you were to jump off the tallest cliff in the Solar System, Verona Rupes on Uranus's moon Miranda, you would fall for 12 minutes before hitting the ground a good 20 km below.


13. Almost all pictures we see of Venus are filtered for more cloud detail, or remove all clouds completely. Viewed naturally the planet appears bright white and nearly featureless due to the complete cloud cover.


14. Jupiter has a layer of liquid metallic hydrogen underneath all the layer of gasses that we see meaning that it has a huge magnetic field and very bright and large auroras at its poles.


15. The orbit of Mercury follows a unique pattern different from other planets which remained unexplained until Einstein’s theory of bending space-time due to large nearby gravitation. The previous theory was there was another planet between mercury and the sun, which they named Vulcan.


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16Sunrise And Sunset on Mars

Sunrise And Sunset on Mars

The sky on Mars is red and its sunsets are blue, which is exactly the opposite of Earth's.


17. Uranus has a magnetic field that "flickers" because its magnetic field is so off-kilter with its rotational axis that magnetic lines will snap apart and reconnect as it rotates. According to one astronomer, "Uranus is a geometric mess."


18. The magnetosphere of Jupiter, extends up to seven million kilometers in the Sun's direction and almost to the orbit of Saturn in the opposite direction. If it was visible from Earth, in the night sky, it would be roughly 4 to 5 times bigger than our moon.


19. Jupiter's moon Io is surrounded by a cloud of neutral Sodium (Na) gas which changes shape in response to variations of Jupiter's magnetic field.


20. Saturn has a very well-defined hexagon at its north pole that can fit up to four piles of earth inside of it.


21Jupiter's Moons

Jupiter's Moons

All of Jupiter's moons are named after the extramarital lovers and children of the mythical Roman god Jupiter. NASA’s probe to Jupiter, Juno, was named after his wife flying in to "check up on her husband's mischief."


22. Five planets visible to the naked eye, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, have been known since ancient times. They can easily be seen with the naked eye if one knows when and where to look.


23. Uranus smells like farts because its atmosphere consists largely of hydrogen sulfide.


24. The co-orbital Saturn moons Epimetheus and Janus avoid collision by mutual acceleration, deceleration, and an eventual orbit "trading" every four years.


25. Triton, the largest moon of Neptune, is the only moon in our solar system with a retrograde orbit - an orbit in the opposite direction of its planet and is thus thought to be a dwarf planet that Neptune caught from the Kuiper belt.

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