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Planetary science Reference Libraries

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Kuiper Belt
2004-10-19 04:45:41

Kuiper Belt -- The Kuiper belt is an area of the solar system extending outwards from the orbit of Neptune (at 30 AU) to 50 AU. The largest of the objects in the Kuiper belt are the planet Pluto and its moon Charon. A new Kuiper belt object, currently called 2001 KX76, has been found that is about the size of Charon, and larger than Ceres. Another such object, Quaoar, discovered in 2002,...

Asteroid Belt
2004-10-19 04:45:41

Asteroid Belt -- The Asteroid belt is a region of the solar system falling roughly between the planets Mars and Jupiter where the greatest concentration of asteroid orbits can be found. It is believed that, during the first million years of the solar system history, planets formed by accretion of planetesimals. Ripetute collisions led to the familiar rocky planets and to the gas giant's...

Plutos Moon Charon
2004-10-19 04:45:41

Planet Charon -- Charon is the only known satellite of Pluto. Charon was discovered by astronomer James Christy in 1978 using photographic plates which showed a bulge moving around Pluto. Christy named it after the Greek mythological figure Charon but pronounced it differently. The "ch" at the beginning of the moon's name is soft so it sounds like "Sharon," after the astronomer's wife...

Pluto
2004-10-19 04:45:41

Planet Pluto -- Pluto is the ninth and smallest planet of our solar system. It was discovered by the astronomer Clyde Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona on February 18, 1930 (although the body was first photographed on March 19, 1915). Tombaugh was searching for a "Planet X" to explain the orbit of Neptune; further analysis, with seven decades more data about Neptune's position,...

Neptunes Moon Triton
2004-10-19 04:45:41

Planet Triton -- Triton is the planet Neptune's largest moon, discovered by William Lassell in 1846 just 17 days after the planet itself was discovered. It is named after Triton, from Greek mythology. Triton is unique among all large moons in the solar system for its retrograde orbit around the planet (i.e., it orbits in a direction opposite to the planet's rotation). Jupiter's moons...

Neptunes Moon Despina
2004-10-19 04:45:41

Planet Despina -- Despina is the third known moon of Neptune. It was discovered in 1989 by Voyager 2, and very little is known about it. It is irregularly shaped and shows no sign of any geological modification. Since its orbit is below Neptune's synchronous orbit radius it is slowly decaying due to tidal forces and will one day break up into a planetary ring or impact on Neptune's...

Neptune
2004-10-19 04:45:41

Planet Neptune -- Neptune is the eighth planet from the sun. It is a gas giant. Orbiting so far from the sun, Neptune receives very little heat. Its 'surface' temperature is -218 degrees Celsius (below zero). However, the planet seems to have an internal source of heat. It is thought that this may be leftover heat generated by infalling matter during the planet's birth, now slowly...

Uranus
2004-10-19 04:45:41

Uranus -- Uranus is the seventh planet from the sun. It is a gas giant. Physical characteristics Uranus is composed primarily of rock and various ices, with only about 15% hydrogen and a little helium (in contrast to Jupiter and Saturn which are mostly hydrogen). Uranus (and Neptune) are in many ways similar to the cores of Jupiter and Saturn minus the massive liquid metallic hydrogen...

Saturns Moon Titan
2004-10-19 04:45:41

Saturn's moon Titan -- Titan is the planet Saturn's largest moon. It is larger than either of the planets Mercury or Pluto and is the second-largest moon in the solar system after Ganymede (it was originally thought to be slightly larger than Ganymede, but recent observations have shown that its thick atmosphere caused overestimation of its diameter). Titan was discovered on March 25, 1655...

Telesto Saturn Moon
2004-10-19 04:45:41

Telesto is a small Trojan moon of the sixth planet from the sun, Saturn. Telesto, which was discovered in 1980 by Smith, Reitsema, Larson and Fountain, is one of around 200 natural satellites in Saturnian orbit. It is one of only 62 moons that have a secure orbit, and only one of 53 named moons orbiting the ringed planet. Telesto was officially designated S/1980 S 13 and was officially named...