Planets

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Planetary scientists in the United States believe that giant diamond chunks may be floating in the fluid hydrogen and helium atmospheres of Saturn and Jupiter, and that at certain altitudes the chunks melt and rain glittering liquid diamond onto the planets.

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  • When was Mars discovered?

    Q: When was Mars discovered?

    A: While no specific date can be identified for the discovery of Mars, knowledge of the planet dates back to ancient civilizations. Ancient Romans, Egyptians and Chinese astronomers independently discovered and named the planet.
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  • Where did Venus get its name?

    Q: Where did Venus get its name?

    A: The planet Venus is named for the Roman goddess of love and beauty. The Romans used the names of their most important gods and goddesses for the brightest objects in the sky.
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  • How much would a 100-pound person weigh on Saturn?

    Q: How much would a 100-pound person weigh on Saturn?

    A: A person weighing 100 pounds on Earth would weigh 107 pounds near the poles of Saturn and 91 pounds near Saturn's equator. This difference is due to centrifugal force offsetting some of the pull of gravity along the equator as the planet spins on its axis.
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  • How long does it take the Earth to make one revolution?

    Q: How long does it take the Earth to make one revolution?

    A: Earth completes one revolution around the Sun for every 365.242199 times it rotates on its axis. This figure is, unfortunately, not evenly divisible, which has historically caused difficulties for the creators of various calendars.
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  • How long does it take for Mars to rotate on its axis?

    Q: How long does it take for Mars to rotate on its axis?

    A: It takes Mars 24 hours, 37 minutes, 23 seconds to rotate on its axis. This is almost identical to the amount of time that it takes the Earth to rotate once on its axis.
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  • Who named Saturn?

    Q: Who named Saturn?

    A: Saturn has been observed with the naked eye since prehistoric times, so it is not possible to know who named it first. Roman astronomers named it Saturnus after their god of agriculture and the father of Jove, which translates to Saturn in English.
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  • How did Jupiter get its name?

    Q: How did Jupiter get its name?

    A: Jupiter gets its name from the most powerful god in Roman mythology. The king of all other gods, Jupiter is the equivalent of Zeus in Greek mythology. It was the largest visible object in the night sky during the time of the Roman Empire, and thus named after its most important deity.
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  • How is Earth different from other planets?

    Q: How is Earth different from other planets?

    A: Earth is unique in that scientists have found the planet to be the only one to have liquid water on its surface, intelligent life forms living on it, a moon that helps regulate surface temperatures, an atmosphere with 21 percent oxygen and plate tectonics, according to Space.com. Scientists believe Earth exists in a "Goldilocks zone" where conditions are just right to support life.
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  • Can Venus be seen from Earth?

    Q: Can Venus be seen from Earth?

    A: For most of the year, Venus is visible to the naked eye. The exception to this is when Venus is too close to the sun to be observed.
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  • What are the characteristics of the outer planets?

    Q: What are the characteristics of the outer planets?

    A: According to Universe Today, the four outer planets of the solar system are all gas giants. This means they lack a conventional surface, and are made up of dense gases around a possible rocky or metallic core. These planets are called Jovian planets to distinguish them from the four rocky terrestrial planets closer to the sun.
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  • What causes Earth's magnetic field?

    Q: What causes Earth's magnetic field?

    A: The leading hypothesis is that the earth’s spinning core causes the Earth's magnetic field, but scientists are unsure about the exact mechanism by which it is created. Iron is the primary constituent of the Earth’s core, and it is able to spin because of its layered construction.
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  • How many satellites does Mercury have?

    Q: How many satellites does Mercury have?

    A: The planet Mercury does not have any known moons (natural satellites) as of 2014. There has been one known artificial satellite orbiting Mercury, known as Messenger.
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  • What planet has the largest moon?

    Q: What planet has the largest moon?

    A: According to NASA, Jupiter's moon, Ganymede, is the largest moon in the solar system. It has a diameter of 2,631 kilometers. Ganymede is larger than both Pluto and Mercury and is 3/4 the size of Mars. Unlike many other moons, Ganymede has a core that generates a substantial magnetic field.
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  • What does Neptune look like?

    Q: What does Neptune look like?

    A: Neptune is an ice giant planet that is blue in color and is the fourth-largest planet in the Solar System. When looking at Neptune with smaller detail, an observer will see the planet's blueness as largely smooth and uniform. When looking with more detail, however, the striations on the planet's surface that are caused by storms in Neptune's atmosphere are more apparent.
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  • When is the next time all the planets will align?

    Q: When is the next time all the planets will align?

    A: The next planetary alignment will not occur until the year 2854. According to astronomers, such alignment typically occurs every 1500 years, with the last phenomenon appearing in 561 B.C.
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  • How many light years away is Mars?

    Q: How many light years away is Mars?

    A: Mars is considerably less than 1 light-year away from Earth. According to Cornell University, Mars orbits the Sun at an average distance of 1.5 times the Earth's mean orbital distance. At the two planets' closest approach, the distance between them shrinks to 0.5 astral units, which equals 75 million kilometers.
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  • Why is Venus compared to Earth?

    Q: Why is Venus compared to Earth?

    A: According to Universe Today, Venus is often called a sister planet to Earth because both planets share a number of physical similarities. They have a similar size, mass, density and volume and may have formed at around the same point in the solar system's history. While they share some similarities, Venus and Earth are also vastly different in many important ways.
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  • What are some interesting or unique features of Neptune?

    Q: What are some interesting or unique features of Neptune?

    A: Neptune was the first planet to have its existence predicted by mathematical calculations before it was seen through a telescope. According to Space, wind speeds on Neptune can reach up to 1,500 miles per hour; the fastest detected in the solar system as of 2014. This incredibly high wind speed was recorded by Voyager 2 in 1989 and was linked to a storm larger than planet Earth.
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  • What is the difference between a planet and a star?

    Q: What is the difference between a planet and a star?

    A: Planets and stars differ in their mass, composition and life cycle. Stars are usually structurally simple bodies of high mass that produce energy by way of nuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium. Planets are much smaller, do not generate light and usually orbit stars.
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  • When will the planets align?

    Q: When will the planets align?

    A: The planets in this solar system never line up perfectly, but they will come into alignment in 2854. Each planet rotates around the sun at a different speed, and the planets form a rough alignment once every 500 years.
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  • What are the names of Mercury's moons?

    Q: What are the names of Mercury's moons?

    A: There are no names for Mercury's moons because the planet does not have any moons. The only other planet that has no moons is Venus.
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