Planets

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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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  • What Are the Similarities Between Earth and Neptune?

    Q: What Are the Similarities Between Earth and Neptune?

    A: Although they are quite dissimilar in almost every way, the Earth and Neptune do share some similar qualities such as gravity, color and orbit. With a gravitational pull that is only 14-percent stronger than the Earth's, Neptune and the Earth have similar gravitational pulls. Both planets are blue and both orbit around the Sun.
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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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  • What Are the Requirements to Be Classified As a Planet?

    Q: What Are the Requirements to Be Classified As a Planet?

    A: In 2006, the International Astronomical Union defined a planet as a body that is in orbit around the sun, has enough mass to establish a round shape, and has cleared other debris from the neighborhood of its orbit. This ruling famously resulted in the demotion of Pluto to dwarf planet status, since Pluto did not have the gravitational influence to clear other bodies from its orbital path.
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  • Could People Live on Saturn?

    Q: Could People Live on Saturn?

    A: Saturn would provide a hostile environment for most of the life found on Earth, according to Fraser Cain of Universe Today. It could not be inhabited by humans without extensive protection.
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  • Can Humans Live on Uranus?

    Q: Can Humans Live on Uranus?

    A: Based on scientific knowledge as of 2014, it is not possible for humans to live on Uranus. As a gas giant, Uranus lacks a solid surface for landing spacecraft or building long-term habitation facilities.
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  • Does Mars Have Clouds?

    Q: Does Mars Have Clouds?

    A: Mars indeed does have water ice clouds, similar to Earth's cirrus clouds, both high in the atmosphere and often forming as icy fog just above the ground surface. The Viking orbiter was able to capture sunrise pictures during which an icy fog was rising from within Martian craters.
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  • What Planet in Our Solar System Is Closest in Size to Earth?

    Q: What Planet in Our Solar System Is Closest in Size to Earth?

    A: Venus is, by far, the closest match to the Earth in size. Venus has a measured diameter that is just about 95 percent that of the Earth and a planetary mass equal to 81.5 percent of the Earth's.
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  • Have Any Man-Made Satellites Been Sent to Mars?

    Q: Have Any Man-Made Satellites Been Sent to Mars?

    A: Several man-made satellites have been sent to Mars since 1964. The first spacecraft to Mars, known as Mariner 3, was launched on Nov. 5, 1964. This spacecraft malfunctioned and failed to fly by Mars as planned.
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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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  • 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 Discovered Mars?

    Q: Who Discovered Mars?

    A: Because Mars with its famous red coloration is readily visible from Earth, it is unknown who first discovered it; NASA lists the planet as "known by the ancients." There are records of its existence as far back as ancient Egypt.
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  • What Are Types of Moons?

    Q: What Are Types of Moons?

    A: There are eight different phases or "types" of the moon: new, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full, waning gibbous, last quarter and waning crescent. These phases repeat themselves approximately every 29.5 days.
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  • How Would a Human Being Fare on Mars?

    Q: How Would a Human Being Fare on Mars?

    A: Low pressures, a lack of oxygen and cold weather on Mars would force humans to remain confined to spacecrafts and vehicles, according to physics.org. Astronauts could occasionally walk around in the open, but only if they wore spacesuits. Settlers would risk dying if their spacesuits became seriously damage. Underground shelter would be an ideal scenario. As of 2014, no settlement on Mars has been established.
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  • How Hot Is Mars?

    Q: How Hot Is Mars?

    A: The average temperature on Mars is -80 degrees Fahrenheit. A summer day near Mars' equator gets up to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but dips to -100 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Winter temperatures at the Martian poles drop to 195 degrees Fahrenheit.
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  • When Did Pluto Become a Dwarf Planet?

    Q: When Did Pluto Become a Dwarf Planet?

    A: Pluto became a dwarf planet in 2006. Upon being stripped of its title as a planet, Pluto joined two other celestial bodies, called Eris and Ceres, in the category of dwarf planets. The decision to reclassify the former planet was made by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).
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  • What Is the Hottest Planet in the Solar System?

    Q: What Is the Hottest Planet in the Solar System?

    A: Venus, the second planet from the sun, is the hottest planet in the solar system, with surface temperatures of around 864 degrees Fahrenheit, and there is no difference between day and night temperatures on Venus, so there is no time of day where temperatures tend to dip. This high temperature, which is hot enough to melt tin and lead, is due in part to the planet's proximity to the sun, though Venus manages to be much hotter than Mercury, which is the closest planet to the sun. Venus' extreme heat can be attributed mostly to its extremely thick atmosphere, which is 93 times thicker than Earth's atmosphere and composed mainly of carbon dioxide.
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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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  • 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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  • Would Mars Be a Good Planet to Live On?

    Q: Would Mars Be a Good Planet to Live On?

    A: As of 2014, scientists believe Mars is the most likely planet in Earth's solar system, outside of Earth, to support human existence. However, this doesn't say much about the potential for life on other planets, as many major obstacles impede life on Mars without significant technological advancements.
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  • Can Mars Sustain Life?

    Q: Can Mars Sustain Life?

    A: According to NASA, 7 billion years ago, Mars may have been an excellent place for microbes to live, but currently it cannot support life because the air is too thin and is comprised mainly of carbon dioxide. After drilling into the rocks on Mars, scientists discovered the key ingredients of life, including sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen and carbon.
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  • Can Neptune Sustain Human Life?

    Q: Can Neptune Sustain Human Life?

    A: Neptune, the eighth planet from the sun, cannot support life according to NASA. Being so far from the sun makes Neptune a very cold planet, with temperatures reaching as low as -361.
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