Planets

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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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  • 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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  • How Many Earths Can Fit Into Jupiter?

    Q: How Many Earths Can Fit Into Jupiter?

    A: According to NASA, about 1000 Earths can fit inside Jupiter. The massive fifth planet is large enough to hold all the planets in the solar system easily.
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  • How Many Satellites Does Mars Have?

    Q: How Many Satellites Does Mars Have?

    A: Mars has two very small satellites orbiting it, Phobos and Deimos. Scientists believe that both moons are actually asteroids captured via Mars's gravitational field. Made of dark rock that includes a great deal of carbon, both satellites have many craters due to collisions with debris.
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  • What Is the Fastest Moving Planet in the Solar System?

    Q: What Is the Fastest Moving Planet in the Solar System?

    A: The fastest-moving planet in the solar system is Mercury. The planet whizzes around the sun at an orbital velocity of 1.6 times that of Earth's orbital velocity. This amounts to 107,700 miles per hour.
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  • What Is the Length of a Day and Year on Saturn?

    Q: What Is the Length of a Day and Year on Saturn?

    A: A day on Saturn is 10.7 hours, and a year is equivalent to 29 Earth years or 10,832 days. The length of the day is calculated from the planet's rotational speed, while scientists determine the length of a year by observing Saturn's orbit.
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  • Where Is Venus Located?

    Q: Where Is Venus Located?

    A: Venus is the second closest planet to the sun, after Mercury. It is part of the solar system, along with Earth and six other planets, which is located in the Milky Way galaxy.
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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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  • Which of the Jovian Planets Have Rings?

    Q: Which of the Jovian Planets Have Rings?

    A: The four Jovian planets that have rings are Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus. The planet with the most visible rings is Saturn; the other three planets have rings that are more faint and difficult to spot.
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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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  • What Do All the Planets Have in Common?

    Q: What Do All the Planets Have in Common?

    A: In order to be declared a planet, a celestial body must meet the following qualifications: It must orbit the sun, it must maintain a nearly spherical shape and have the necessary mass for self-gravity so that it does not succumb to rigid body forces, and it must clear the neighborhood around its orbit. All recognized planets in the solar system meet this definition.
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  • What Are the Special Features of Mars?

    Q: What Are the Special Features of Mars?

    A: Mars has a number of interesting features that make it one of the most studied planets in the solar system. One of the most often noted features of Mars is its reddish color, which earned it the nickname the Red Planet. The reddish hue results from iron oxide, or rust, in the soil.
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  • Can Venus Support Life?

    Q: Can Venus Support Life?

    A: There is no evidence of life existing on Venus, and current scientific theories suggest that it is very unlikely that the planet can support life. The planet's high temperature and lack of water are cited as reasons for its hostility to harboring life.
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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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  • What Are the Diameters of the Planets?

    Q: What Are the Diameters of the Planets?

    A: The diameters of the planets are as follows: Mercury is 3,032 miles; Venus is 7,521 miles; Earth is 7,926 miles; Mars is 4,222 miles; Jupiter is 88,846 miles; Saturn is 74,898 miles; Uranus is 31,763 miles; Neptune is 30,778 miles. As a result, the largest planet by diameter is Jupiter and the smallest is Mercury.
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  • What Is the Difference Between a Moon and a Planet?

    Q: What Is the Difference Between a Moon and a Planet?

    A: NASA states that for an astronomical body to be considered a moon, that object must orbit a planet. For a planet to be classified as such, it must meet certain strict criteria set by the International Astronomical Union.
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  • What Is the Composition of Mars' Atmosphere?

    Q: What Is the Composition of Mars' Atmosphere?

    A: The composition of Mars' atmosphere is 95.32 percent carbon dioxide, 2.7 percent nitrogen, 1.6 percent oxygen and 0.08 percent carbon monoxide. The remaining 0.3 percent is made up of various trace elements.
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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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  • How Did Saturn Form?

    Q: How Did Saturn Form?

    A: Saturn formed according to one of two models: the core accretion model, which states that planets formed over time through gravitational forces drawing materials together, or the disk instability model, which states that clumps of dust and gas fused together quickly and progressively formed a planet.
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  • What Is a Rhyme to Remember the Planets?

    Q: What Is a Rhyme to Remember the Planets?

    A: One rhyme to remember the planets is "Amazing Mercury is closest to the Sun, Hot, hot Venus is the second one, Earth comes third; it’s not too hot, Freezing Mars awaits an astronaut, Jupiter is bigger than all the rest, Sixth comes Saturn, its rings look best, Uranus and Neptune are big gas balls, Tiny Pluto is the last planet of all." As well as using rhymes to remember the order of the planets, there are also a good selection of mnemonics available.
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  • What Kind of Atmosphere Does Neptune Have?

    Q: What Kind of Atmosphere Does Neptune Have?

    A: Neptune's atmosphere is similar to the atmospheres of other large planets and contains helium and hydrogen. It also has trace amounts of water, ammonia, methane and other ices.
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  • What Is Saturn's Mass?

    Q: What Is Saturn's Mass?

    A: Saturn's mass is 258,326,818,200,000,000,000,000,000 pounds (568,319,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilograms). The sixth planet in the solar system and the second largest after Jupiter, Saturn is about 886 million miles away from the Sun. According to the National Aeronautical and Space Authority, Saturn completes one rotation (spinning on its axis) in 10.70 Earth-hours.
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