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Solar System: 5 Things To Know This Week

Solar System: 5 Things To Know This Week

We live during one of the great eras of exploration. At this very moment, there are dozens of spacecraft surveying the solar system, from Mars, to Saturn, to Pluto and beyond. What’s more, you can ride along with these expeditions — all you need is an internet connection to see the latest discoveries from deep space. Here are a few essential resources for the armchair astronaut:

1. It’s Like Facebook, but for Planets

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Or is it more of a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Solar System? Whatever you want to call it, our Planets page offers quick rundowns, as well as in-depth guides, for all the major bodies in the solar system. Explore from the sun all they way out to the Oort Cloud.

2. Robots to the Rescue

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Saturn looks spectacular through a telescope, but there’s only so much you can learn about it from the ground. Going there in person is tough, too. While we are now preparing to send astronauts beyond Earth orbit, a human mission to Saturn won’t be possible in the near future. That’s where the space robots come in. For example, the Cassini spacecraft studies Saturn and its moons up close, sometimes even doing things like flying right through the geyser plumes of the ice moon Enceladus. See all the solar system missions, past and present, where they went and what they’ve seen HERE.

3. Keep Your Eyes on This One

Solar System: 5 Things To Know This Week

If you still haven’t tried Eyes on the Solar System, you’re missing out. This online simulation lets you tour the planets and track the past, current and future positions of spacecraft — right in your web browser, all in 3D. Eyes on the Solar System uses real NASA data to help you take a virtual flight across both space and time.

4. Images in the Raw

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You don’t have to wait for a news release to see pictures from planetary missions. Some missions allow you to see raw, unprocessed images sent straight from the spacecraft. What these images lack in explanatory captions they make up for in freshness — sometimes you can see pictures from Mars or Saturn that are mere hours old. There’s something exhilarating about being among the first human beings ever to see an alien landscape. Peruse our new raw image pages HERE.

5. Bring It On Home

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After you’ve toured the far reaches of the solar system, you can always come home again. When you have spent time studying the harsh conditions of our neighboring planets, the charms of a unique paradise come into sharp focus, the place we call Earth. Watch a real-time video feed from Earth orbit HERE. You can also see a daily global view of our planet from a million miles away HERE. Download THIS Earth Now mobile app to hold the planet in your hands.

Want to learn more? Read our full list of the 10 things to know this week about the solar system HERE.

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