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Questions tagged [solar-system]

Refers to questions concerning the solar system containing Earth. For other solar systems, use the 'planetary-system' tag.

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130 votes
4 answers
34k views

Do the planets really orbit the Sun?

We often say that the planets orbit the Sun, which is usually a reasonable approximation. But in reality both Sun and the planets orbit the center-of-mass/center-of-gravity of the whole solar system, ...
CodesInChaos's user avatar
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33 votes
1 answer
1k views

How do we know that Voyager's data is correct?

I was wondering for some time how we know that the scientific data received by the Voyager spacecrafts are correct? Specifically, I'm wondering about the recent "tsunami-wave" (frequency of ionized ...
Mario Krenn's user avatar
29 votes
6 answers
9k views

Why are probes that tend to explore outer system always launched to go outwards instead of straight upwards or downwards?

Let's take a look at the trajectory of variety probe missions. New Horizons and Ultima Thule will be 4.1 billion miles away when it visits the Kuiper Belt object. This chart shows the path of New ...
not_Prince's user avatar
  • 1,507
28 votes
1 answer
11k views

What is the farthest artificial satellite in orbit in our solar system?

When did we send the farthest satellite and what is its role and name ?
Taher's user avatar
  • 1,057
23 votes
5 answers
7k views

Can a moon orbit its planet faster than its planet rotates?

Can a moon orbit its planet faster than its planet rotates? Can a moon orbit its planet more than once per the planet's day? It seems possible but I'm not sure. Are there any known examples of this ...
user38319's user avatar
  • 255
21 votes
4 answers
6k views

What's the (particle) density of the asteroid belt?

Obviously the asteroid belt is pretty sparsly populated. But how sparsly exactly? What is the state of knowledge regarding how many particles are there in a given size bracket and a volume, what ...
mart's user avatar
  • 1,275
20 votes
2 answers
2k views

What types of sustainable energy are available beyond Mars?

Most of the energy we use on Earth in our daily activities is a derivative of solar; wind, hydroelectric, coal, gas (oil), wood fire, solar cells. While we might not think about it, all of these are ...
James Jenkins's user avatar
19 votes
1 answer
875 views

How much of the Interplanetary Transport Network is currently known?

The Interplanetary Transport Network is a network of mathematically-defined paths through our solar system that would require little to no energy for a spacecraft to follow them, albeit at very low ...
Gwen's user avatar
  • 2,917
18 votes
5 answers
922 views

What target is the most difficult to reach in the solar system?

"Most difficult", as in the minimum $\Delta v$ required, the objective being capture into an orbit around the object. Looking through some Delta-v maps, I would suspect the answer to be some inner ...
SE - stop firing the good guys's user avatar
16 votes
3 answers
4k views

If Saturn or Jupiter were in Earth's orbit, would any of their moons be habitable for humans?

The majority of exoplanets found so far are comparable in size to Jupiter or Saturn. Which, as we know, are problematic for human habitation. But their moons have a lot of potential. Some of these ...
James Jenkins's user avatar
15 votes
3 answers
3k views

Is it possible that a giant 10th planet exists in our solar system? [closed]

It seems that some people maintain the existence of a "planet X" is all but science fiction, while others claim that its existence is a possibility, even if that's relatively a remote one. ...
berry120's user avatar
  • 2,043
15 votes
4 answers
5k views

What is the most fuel efficient way out of the Solar System?

I understand with current technology we can't just fly a straight line out of the solar system but which way out would need the least fuel? Currently to navigate the solar system it is a dance ...
Muze's user avatar
  • 1
15 votes
2 answers
2k views

By when can we pass by Voyager 1?

I am just curious to know if there is any estimation, no matter how rough it could be, about when another human artifact can go farther than Voyager 1 with respect to the Earth; years, decades, any ...
abbassix's user avatar
  • 309
14 votes
1 answer
2k views

How likely is it that the Voyager spacecrafts haven't yet been damaged by micrometeoroids?

Both Voyagers have been traveling at over $60,000$ km/h for well over four decades and still seem to function properly, taking into account the slowly dropping power and warmth available from their ...
Tfovid's user avatar
  • 243
14 votes
2 answers
4k views

Does the radiation danger in interplanetary space decrease the further you get from the sun?

Does radiation danger increase or decrease as you travel farther from the Sun? I understand that there's a significant radiation hazard to astronauts. Say, traveling from Earth to Mars, due to ...
Joe's user avatar
  • 3,950
13 votes
1 answer
4k views

What does "side view" of solar system look like?

I'm trying to grasp what a 2D "side-view" of the solar system looks like. There are many examples of a "top-down" view of the solar system. But the side-view confuses me somewhat. ...
sloesp's user avatar
  • 195
13 votes
1 answer
1k views

Does cosmic dust pose a problem for long-term satellites, telescopes and probes?

We have many long-term satellite observatories and probes in outer space way above the Earth's magnetosphere, and some of them progressively cruising out of our Solar system. Off the top of my head, ...
TildalWave's user avatar
  • 76.1k
13 votes
1 answer
503 views

What are the implications if Juno finds that Jupiter has a solid core?

Juno has arrived at Jupiter, and will begin taking measurements to determine if the gas giant has a solid core. But what I cannot seem to find is the implications such a discovery would have. This ...
Phiteros's user avatar
  • 5,626
12 votes
2 answers
2k views

Where could we build a space elevator today (2014)?

A space elevator is an interesting concept, allowing for very low cost transit to orbit. Currently we don't seem to have a technology that will provide a strong enough cable to make the climb from ...
James Jenkins's user avatar
11 votes
5 answers
3k views

What processes create an object with an interstellar velocity?

An object like Oumuamua originates in a solar system. This object has roughly the inertia of everything else there. I can imagine stuff on the edge of the accretion zone for a star that...WANDER off......
Chris B. Behrens's user avatar
11 votes
3 answers
1k views

Why is it so hard to figure out if Voyager 1 has left the solar system?

I recently noticed the comic above, and wondered what, exactly, makes it so hard to tell whether Voyager 1 has left the solar system. I can think of three reasons: Scientists can't agree on where the ...
user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
1k views

Can you have a rainbow on any bodies in the solar system besides Earth?

We know from Flying on dense atmosphere planets & moons that many bodies in our solar system have sufficient atmosphere for at least the concept of flying to be considered. What about the ...
James Jenkins's user avatar
10 votes
5 answers
5k views

How does a planet's gravity push away smaller bodies that would otherwise intersect its orbit?

I was reading an article about dwarf planets online where I stumbled upon the following definition of a planet: The International Astronomical Union defines a planet as being in orbit around the ...
Learner's user avatar
  • 109
10 votes
3 answers
4k views

Is Voyager 2 capable of proving the existence of Oort cloud?

Yesterday on Dec 10 2018, NASA announced that Voyager 2 probe has exited the heliosphere - the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by the Sun and entered the interstellar-medium;...
not_Prince's user avatar
  • 1,507
9 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why is there no difference between a transfer orbit delta-V and a capture orbit delta-V for Earth?

I'm particularly interested in understanding this beautiful solar system delta-v map and concepts on its Wikipedia page. In contrast to other planets there is no Earth Transfer only an Earth Capture/...
Galerita's user avatar
  • 1,139
9 votes
2 answers
1k views

How many satellites would be required for Solar System GPS?

GPS is a Global Positioning System. it uses satellites in orbit to identify precise location on a globe. Several posts here talk about it being used in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) with success. About 30 ...
James Jenkins's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
3k views

What is a planet intercept?

As a fun side project I'm writing a turn-based game that tries to portrait solar system travel little bit more realistically then most of games do. I want to calculate the cost of traveling between ...
atok's user avatar
  • 193
8 votes
2 answers
1k views

What other bodies in the solar system are most likely to contain forms of life?

There have been many candidates stated as potential habitats for life outside of Earth, but what are considered to be the most likely to harbor life?
Stu's user avatar
  • 5,928
8 votes
2 answers
2k views

Is there free, accurate and updated data on planetary body positions in the solar system?

I'm a software developer and I'm trying to move towards astrophysics. I wanted to create an accurate solar system model using real-time accurate data. I've found the NASA data site, however I can only ...
LiamRyan's user avatar
  • 343
8 votes
1 answer
1k views

How much do we know about minerals and raw materials that are in our solar system?

Based on satellite and robots research, is there an overview/inventory of mineral resources that has been discovered till now on the planets, moons, asteroids and comets of our solar system (e.g. list,...
eugenio's user avatar
  • 89
8 votes
1 answer
314 views

Navigation within solar system

I know star trackers are used in most cases for attitude determination of space craft traveling within the solar system. But what methods are currently used for coordinate determination, i.e. the ...
Super-intelligent Shade's user avatar
7 votes
4 answers
1k views

Is it pure luck that the voyager 1 survived to travel beyond our solar system in interstellar space?

A random question. At the very first try we succeeded. Though it might not be strange, What was the probability of surviving so long with so many external variables and constants.?
Bandeep Rabha's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
1k views

How do we define the aphelion of Earth?

After seeing this question, I was curious on how we define the aphelion of Earth. On a quick search it said that the aphelion is the point when Earth is the furthest way from the sun. However, all the ...
The Rocket fan's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
632 views

Sending a satellite towards or away from the Sun

I remember reading here that it is more difficult (cost? fuel?) to send a satellite towards the Sun compared to sending a satellite away from it. Is this true? And if it is, how come?
taintedromance's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
3k views

High resolution images of surfaces of other planets and moons

We have high resolution images of the the surface of the Earth taken by satellites (e.g. the images from Google Earth). Why have none of the orbiters going to any other planet or celestial body in our ...
Marmstrong's user avatar
  • 1,093
7 votes
2 answers
854 views

How was the radius of Venus measured so accurately (± 3 km) via radar in the mid 1960's, before Venera 4 and Mariner 5?

In several answers to the question When did planetary scientists realize Venus' surface pressure was almost 100x that on Earth? How did they find out? the known radius of Venus is mentioned. It was ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
7 votes
1 answer
320 views

Have Magnetorquers been used anywhere outside of the Earth?

On Earth, small satellites often include Magnetorquers. A magnetorquer allows the satellite to re-orient itself without using fuel in a way more permanent than magnets. While not every planet has a ...
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
  • 121k
6 votes
3 answers
5k views

Where will we get nitrogen in space?

It's expensive to launch things out of a gravity well. So in the future, as we seek to manufacture things in space, it's worth exploring the possibility of harvesting them there as well. In the ...
DJG's user avatar
  • 804
6 votes
2 answers
631 views

What is the largest body in the solar system we could meaningfully and accurately adjust the orbit of?

There is a lot of science fiction and emerging science that move comet and asteroids as part of the main plot. Pretty much everything in our solar system, is in orbit around the Sun, or in orbit ...
James Jenkins's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
857 views

How are artificial satellites of non-Earth celestial bodies positioned?

A body on Earth's surface can be positioned easily knowing the GPS coordinates, assuming the body is in direct path or 4 GPS satellites. But how is a satellite (say Maven or India's Mangalyaan) which ...
x0x's user avatar
  • 163
6 votes
0 answers
118 views

Any algorithmic models of our solar system to predict positions relative to earth?

I'm looking for a map/model of the movements of our solar system and associated moons. What are the 'best' algorythmic models to represent our solar system. Looking to write a game/edutainment app ...
CodingMatters's user avatar
6 votes
0 answers
320 views

Did Rosetta improve on models of non-gravitational effects on comet 67P's orbit?

Question: Since the presence of the Rosetta spacecraft near comet 67P allowed for a detailed mass measurement, extremely precise position and velocity determinations, and physcal measurement and ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
5 votes
3 answers
954 views

Does the Earth have any Trojan asteroids?

Are there any known Trojan objects residing in the Sun-Earth L4 (SEL4) and L5 (SEL5) Lagrange points, also named "Greek" and "Trojan" groups, respectively?
Thunder's user avatar
  • 119
5 votes
2 answers
616 views

Is the Heliosphere as elliptical as this graphic suggests?

I noticed the following graphic being used in an article discussing the Voyager probes. It also appears on Wikipedia's Heliosphere page: The same page states that: On a broader scale, the motion ...
aroth's user avatar
  • 677
5 votes
2 answers
2k views

How do we measure the atmospheres of Solar system planets?

How much is it possible to measure from Earth and how accurately without sending probes to the planets? I am curious about how atmospheric boundary (altitude), atmospheric pressure, scale height were ...
Zilvinas's user avatar
  • 153
5 votes
1 answer
216 views

Precision in the space navigation [duplicate]

I am curious about the precision NASA and other agencies have in the space navigation. Are they always accurate to the meter in position they aim for; in mission like the recent rover landing on the ...
Majoris's user avatar
  • 153
5 votes
1 answer
358 views

Which planet gets the most money? Which gets the least?

I'm curious if anyone has ever tallied the expenditures of all of the world's space programs, and then tried to divide it by which planet was targeted. It's possible this has already been done. If ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
5 votes
1 answer
272 views

What words are used to mean in relation to or origin of a planet?

Pretty simple question I think, but I am having trouble confirming a legitimate answer. If things related to Mars are Martian, things related to Jupiter are Jovian, and things related to the Moon ...
TitaniumTurtle's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
851 views

Has there been any mission to land on a planet or moon in the Outer Solar System?

Are there any planets or moons in the Outer Solar System, where a man-made object has landed and made photographs of its surface? I can remember an article somewhere that said there's only one moon ...
Zoltán Schmidt's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
320 views

Belt of matter at ~14 AU?

In this terrific answer user Hobbes presents a graph of escape velocity as a function of distance from the Sun: I notice that at about 14 AU the graph goes from decreasing exponentially to ...
dotancohen's user avatar
  • 6,784