Guest Post by Beatrice Owen
The kids of today have many more things than our generation did; however, one thing they cannot ever hope to see is a clear sky filled with stars and free of pollution, unless they live in rural locations where the dust and grime of industrialization has not yet polluted the clean air and the clear skies. One of the best experiences of my childhood was lying on our lawn or terrace and gazing up at the night sky – occasionally, my siblings and I were lucky enough to see a shooting star. And although our wishes never came true, we continued to gaze into the night and wonder about the mysteries that our solar system held. There are hundreds of secrets that are waiting to be discovered, and the ones that we know as of now include:
- The planet Mars has two hemispheres that are startlingly different from each other – while the upper half of the red planet is almost flat, its lower half is riddled with long ranges of high mountains.
- Most of us know that Venus is the only planet that rotates in the clockwise direction. However, not many people know that Uranus is the only planet that rotates at a tilt – while all the other planets stand upright with their poles perpendicular to the sun, Uranus lies down with one pole facing the sun for long periods as it rotates around its axis.
- Of all the solar bodies that have been discovered and studied so far, Titan, one of Saturn’s moons is closest in composition to the Earth. Titan’s atmosphere is only one and a half times thicker than that of the Earth, and it comprises 95 percent Nitrogen (Earth’s atmosphere too is 80 percent Nitrogen).
- Ganymede, the largest of all moons in our solar system and a moon of Jupiter, is the only moon to have a magnetosphere similar to that of the Earth which protects it from the sun’s solar winds.
- The sun’s South Pole is cooler than its North Pole – this fascinating fact was picked up by the solar probe Ulysses which revolved around the sun for close to two decades; it was launched from the space shuttle Discovery using Jupiter as a gravitational catapult so that it orbited the sun around its poles rather than around its equator.
- More on the sun – the atmosphere of the sun is hotter than its surface. It’s a surprising fact that defies all the known laws of Physics, but it’s true nevertheless.
- There are other planetary systems similar to our solar systems – these planets, known as extra-solar planets, orbit stars similar to our sun, and their discovery opens up the possibility that there may be other planets similar to Earth that hold other life forms.
It’s a fascinating whole new world out there, one that holds immense possibilities for exploration and new discoveries. Only time will tell what we’re likely to come across in the course of the journeys being undertaken by the various probes launched by space shuttles and orbiting the outermost planets of our solar system and beyond.
This guest post is contributed by Beatrice Owen, she writes on the topic of bachelors of science . She welcomes your comments at her email id: owen1.beatrice(@)gmail(.)com.