The Sun is one of more than one hundred billion stars in our galaxy. Eight planets orbit it: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. The inner planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars are smaller terrestrial planets and closest to the Sun. The outer planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are larger. Jupiter and Saturn are two gas giants and Uranus and Neptune are two ice giants. Asteroids, meteoroids, and comets also orbit our Sun. Did you ever wonder what is beyond the planets and stars? The answer seems to be space and more stars, some with their own planets.

Some scientists use information from satellites, space probes, telescopes, meteorites and computers to explore the planets of our solar system. They also investigate the moons of the planets, asteroids, comets, meteors, and even the dust between the planets. They work with biologists and geologists to search for evidence of life on other planets and for the reasons that some animals on Earth, such as dinosaurs, became extinct. What they learn not only leads to exciting new discoveries about other planets and moons, but helps us to better understand Earth and the origin of life. What do we call these scientists? Planetary Scientists

Did You Know? Astronauts can become about 5cm taller while they are in space due to the absence of gravity

Some geoscientists use radio receivers on Earth, instruments on satellites, and space probes to investigate the Sun and space. They study solar flares, solar wind, and how the steady stream of electrically charged particles produced by the Sun interacts with the magnetic fields of Earth. These particles occasionally cause a fantastic light show called the northern lights, or aurora borealis, in the Northern Hemisphere; and, the southern lights, or aurora australis, in the Southern Hemisphere. From their studies of the Sun, they are learning about the solar bursts that cause magnetic storms in Earth’s upper atmosphere. These solar storms can disrupt electrical power, computer and telephone communications, and satellite operations. Predicting these storms and their strength has become more important because we now rely on satellites for many things, including weather reports and communications. What these scientists are learning will be increasingly important to us as we continue to explore other planets both in our own solar system and around other stars. What do we call these scientists? Solar and Space Physicists

Did You Know? Many trans-Neptunian objects appear to have large moons. Perhaps the most famous example is the dwarf planet Pluto and its moon Charon, which is about half the size of Pluto.