By Ray Sumner
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Extra resources for Geography Basics (2 Volumes Set)
It does not orbit on the same plane, called the ecliptic, as the rest of the planets do. Instead, its orbit diverges more than seventeen degrees above and below the ecliptic. Its orbit’s oval shape brings Pluto within the orbit of Neptune for a large percentage of its long year, which is equal to 248 Earth years. Two-thirds the size of the earth’s moon, Pluto has a thin, frigid methane atmosphere. ) from Pluto’s surface. Because of the closeness in the sizes of Pluto and Charon, some astronomers consider them to be a double planet.
A wrinkle in the lunar surface is called a ridge. Many ridges are found around the boundaries of the maria. The Serpentine Ridge cuts through Mare Serenitatis. Exploration of the Moon. Robotic spacecraft were the first visitors to explore the Moon. The Russian spacecraft Luna 1 made the first flyby of the Moon in January, 1959. Eight months later, Luna 2 made the first im- The Sun and the Earth / 37 pact on the Moon’s surface. In October, 1959, Luna 3 was the first spacecraft to photograph the side of the Moon not visible from Earth.
Terrestrial Planets. In the first region are the terrestrial (Earth-like) planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. Mercury, the nearest to the Sun, Artists rendition of the formation of the solar system. Scientists theorize that the system began as a nebula, a spinning cloud of gas and dust that collapsed under its own weight, forming the Sun at the center. The planets are believed to have formed from dustballs that were then melted into rocky spheres by bolts of lightning. (Painting by Don Dixon, NASA) 26 / The Solar System Relative Sizes of the Planets Sun Pluto Neptune Uranus Mars Saturn Venus Earth Mercury Jupiter Note: The size of the Sun and distances between planets are not to scale.
Geography Basics (2 Volumes Set) by Ray Sumner