The Terrible Secrets of Space, Part Three: Our Dumb Solar System

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For Part Three of TSOS, I'll be eschewing the theoretical jimmity jam and presenting some or my favorite fun facts about the other members of our own solar system. So here we go.

Mercury, the sun's little punk. The solar system's littlest planet, and the one closest to our sun. Like many bars in San Francisco, Mercury has no atmosphere. With no atmosphere to hold the sun's heat, the surface temperature of Mercury's daytime and nighttime halves differs by about six hundred degrees. The NASA MESSENGER space craft recently buzzed Mercury and sent back a bunch of pictures that make the planet look like a larger version of Earth's moon, except with massive spider-like surface features that were obviously built by intelligent life forms.

Venus (hates you). Venus is surrounded by an extremely thick atmosphere that makes the planet very boring to look at from the outside. The only interesting thing about observing Venus is that it goes through phases, like the moon. The surface of Venus is marked by extremely high temperature and pressure, and as a result the planet has destroyed several landing probes sent there to bother it. Venus is also the setting of Ray Bradbury's All Summer in a Day, which is a very dumb story about horrible little children. Venus is also the setting of one of H.P. Lovecraft's only true science fiction stories -- In the Walls of Eryx -- which, not surprisingly, is scary as hell.

Mars, the cradle of civilization. Mars is confirmed to have been the home to several ancient races of intelligent life, whose relics and monuments have been painstakingly catalogued by NASA scientists interpreting data from various robotic probes. Today, Mars is the home of at least one sasquatch. This creature poses an immediate threat to human civilization, and as a result NASA has announced that all future robotic missions to the red planet will be heavily armed.

Jupiter, fat and fabulous. Jack Handy once said that Jupiter should be considered an enemy planet, regardless of whether we ever find life on it. Jack Handy is a fool. To the contrary, Jupiter is the Earth's protective big brother. Responsible for 90% of the non-solar mass of the solar system, Jupiter's gravitational field protects the inner planets from marauding asteroids and other undesirables that might want to enter our solar system, generally by deflecting them into the nether reaches of space. This phenomenon has led some scientists to conclude that a Jupiter-like planet is a requirement for life on other planets -- i.e., a planet can only have advanced life on it if it shares its solar system with a giant planet with protective gravity. Jupiter also has a dickload of Moons, including Europa, which closely resembles the icy planet of Hoth.

Saturn, the one with the rings. RINGS! RINGS! MOTHERFUCKING RINGS! JESUS CHRIST, WILL YOU LOOK AT THOSE RINGS! Most people associate Saturn with rings. Saturn has rings.

Uranus, the sideways planet. The third of the outer gassy giants, Uranus is best known as source material for countless bad jokes told by young boys. See, e.g., E.T. The coolest thing about Uranus is that it's the only planet with a sideways rotation. While all other planets "spin" as they orbit the sun, Uranus "rolls." It also has the word "anus" right there in its name.

Neptune, Hi, I'm on Neptune. Neptune is another gassy, featureless planet. It is not the largest, the prettiest, or the sideways-est. Until recently, its main claim to fame was the fact that it was sometimes the farthest planet from the sun due to Pluto's weird orbit. Now that Pluto isn't a planet anymore, Neptune is the farthest plan from the sun all the time. I don't know anything else about Neptune.

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Where the hell is your factoids about PLUTO?
The REAL smallest PLANET in the solar system!

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by hb published on February 6, 2008 6:02 PM.

The Terrible Secrets of Space, Part Two: Our Bubblegum Universe was the previous entry in this blog.

Saturn and Earthshine is the next entry in this blog.

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