The Solar System Archive

Sciency Words: Solar Wind

The Sun produces more than just sunlight. In addition to boring, electrically neutral photons of various

Sciency Words: Binary Planet

Pluto and Charon have such an unusual relationship with each other that modern scientific literature often

Sciency Words: Ring Arcs

The existence of these arcs doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Ring particles should spread

Sciency Words: Planet X

Planet X is perhaps the most abused term in modern astronomy. The name has been coopted

Sciency Words: Centaur

It is believed that most centaurs used to be Kuiper belt objects or objects from the

Sciency Words: Cantaloupe Terrain

This heavily dimpled surface topography, which bears an uncanny resemblance to the skin of a cantaloupe,

Sciency Words: Flagship Mission

In relation to the ice giants, everyone seems to agree that a discovery-class mission could never

Sciency Words: Verona Rupes

The moons of Uranus are generally named after Shakespearean characters, or at least characters from classic

Sciency Words: Ice Giant

Depending on whom you ask, our Solar System has either four gas giants or only two.

Sciency Words: Uranus

As we continue our voyage through the Solar System, we now reach a planet that has

Sciency Words: Trojans

Trojan asteroids are asteroids that share their orbits with a planet. This may not seem like

Sciency Words: Cryovolcano

When cryovolcanoes erupt, their cryomagma tends to include lots of liquid water, but at temperatures well

Sciency Words: Roche Limit

First calculated in 1848 by French astronomer and mathematician Edouard Roche, the Roche limit describes the

Sciency Words: Kirkwood Gaps

Kirkwood gaps are named after Daniel Kirkwood, the astronomer who first discovered them and correctly deduced

Sciency Words: Chaos Terrain

The resulting terrain will look truly bizarre—chaotic, you might say!—with huge ice blocks jutting up above

Sciency Words: Belts and Zones

If you’ve ever looked at Jupiter, you’ve noticed that it has stripes. The stripes are so

Sciency Words: Rubble Pile

“Rubble pile” is not a formal part of any asteroid classification system, but it appears so

Sciency Words: Siliceous Asteroids

It’s a tale of two asteroids, one in the inner asteroid belt, the other in the

Sciency Words: Carbonaceous Asteroids

As the name implies, carbonaceous asteroids have lots of carbon and carbon-containing compounds.

Sciency Words: Opposition and Conjunction

Mars, like pretty much everything in space, is a moving target. Sometimes, it’s fairly close to