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The earth is only one small planet in an extremely large system of planets satellites asteroids meteors and comets that revolve around the sun This system is referred to as the solar system A planet is defined as a celestial body that revolves around a central star and does not shine by its own light Grolier1992 The only planetary system known to our civilization is our solar system It is made up of nine planets that differ greatly size and physical characteristics The nine major planets in our solar system are Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune and Pluto There are also many other minor planets which are also in our solar system but they are unimportant compared to the nine major planets Following are descriptions of the differences that each of the nine planets have The first planet to be discussed is Mercury Mercury is the planet that is closest to the sun at an average distance of about 58 million km or about 36 million miles It takes 587 days for Mercury to rotate The planet rotates one and one half times during each revolution Mercury has a density and composition close to that of Earth and like Earth has a magnetic field This magnetic field is produced from the planets outer core which is said to be liquid iron This liquid iron generates a magnetic field with its movement The atmosphere is extremely thin and contains sodium and potassium The photographs that have been taken of Mercurys surface show the planet having craters and steep cliffs The temperatures on Mercury reach amazingly high levels of about 430 C which is about 810 F on the side facing the sun and about -180 C or about 290 F on the side facing away from the sun It is speculated that these high temperatures resulting from the planets proximity to the sun made it impossible for the gases present
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