Ladybugs, ladybirds, or ladybird beetles, the classic red and black
Space, as a wise man once wrote, is big. Really big. And because space is so mind-bogglingly big, there is quite a few extremes and oddities. For example, strangely…
Venus’ atmosphere would crush you
Venus has an extremely dense atmosphere. At the surface, the pressure is 92 times Earth’s atmospheric pressure. That is 1352 pounds per square inch of pressure, or roughly the same pressure at 1 km under the ocean. While that isn’t enough to break your femur, it’s plenty to break most bones in your body.
You can’t fly straight through Jupiter
It’s a popular saying that Jupiter, since it’s a “gas giant,” is completely gaseous, so an object, moving fast enough, could pass right through.
As it turns out, the object would pass right through the outer layers of Jupiter’s atmosphere before crashing spectacularly into Jupiter’s solid core, which is surmised to be about the size of the Earth.
And probably not Saturn, either
Like Jupiter, the term “gas giant” is applied to Saturn, and many believe that you could pass right through the ringed planet. However, just like Jupiter, Saturn is believed to have a solid, rocky core. In the deepest part of the core, the pressure and temperature are high enough to turn hydrogen gas into a metal.
- Despite being made of gas, Jupiter and Saturn makeup most of our planetary mass
According to NASA, if the Sun were the size of an average front door, both Jupiter and Saturn would both be about the size of basketballs. By comparison, the Earth would be about the size of a nickel. This is probably the reason why both Jupiter and Saturn together comprise about 92 percent of all planetary mass in the solar system.
- Mars’ two moons are named Fear and Panic
The vast majority of bodies in the Solar System are named for mythological figures from various religions. That means that the two moons of Mars (the planet named for the Roman god of war), are named for two twin sons of Ares (Mars in Greek mythology), Phobos and Deimos. They are the personifications of Fear and Panic following the god of war into battle.
- Some people have suggested floating cities in Venus’ atmosphere
Venus has a dense atmosphere compared to Earth’s. That means that the gases which makeup Earth’s atmosphere would rise above the thick lower layer, creating an area of Earth-like conditions 50 km above the surface. Some have suggested that, although terraforming or colonizing Venus’ surface is impossible with modern technology, perhaps it is possible to create a city of humans above the rolling clouds.
- Uranus spins around the sun sideways
Most planets are tilted a certain amount on their axes. For example, Earth is tilted about 23 degrees from perpendicular. This causes temperature fluctuations, and the tilt and fluctuation varies from planet to planet. Uranus has a tilt of 97 degrees, so nearly parallel to the planet’s path around the sun, with the poles receiving the most light. Oddly, Uranus’ equator is still warmer than the poles, and we don’t know why.
- Venus is upside down
Most planets (even Uranus, which almost spins parallel), rotate counter-clockwise when viewed from Earth’s north pole. That is, except for Venus. That is because Venus tilts on its axis at about 177 degrees, putting its north pole on the (for the rest of the planets) wrong side of the planet. Compared to every other planet, then, Venus is upside-down.
- Mercury’s years are less than two of its days long
The solar day of each planet is how long it takes for the planet to rotate once on its axis. On Earth, this takes 24 hours. Due to its proximity to the sun, Mars’ rotation is much slower – it rotates once every 59 Earth days. Its year, or one trip on its orbit around the Sun, is much quicker. As opposed to Earth’s 365 days, Mercury goes around the sun in 88 Earth days. This means that Mercury’s years around just under a day and a half long.
- The Solar System is surrounded by a cloud of asteroids
At the farthest reaches of our Solar System, far beyond Pluto and the ring of frozen gasses called the Kuiper Belt that encompass it, there is a huge sphere of ice and rock fragments. They surround the Solar system on all sides at a distance of about .8 lightyears. They rotate and move at the very outermost reaches of the Sun’s gravitational power.
This mysterious and enormous cloud is rather anticlimactically called the Oort Cloud.