Earth and Space Systems

The year was 1957 – the Soviets launched the Sputnik Program. Their first attempt managed to orbit earth 1400 times and lasted 3 weeks. The second carried a passenger, a dog, and it orbited the earth for 5 months. By this time NASA was set to go.  In Feb. 1958 the first American satellite, Explorer 1 was launched.  It managed 58 000 orbits before it burned up while entering the earth’s atmosphere. For the next 10 years, both Russia and the U.S. were sending various spacecrafts into space.  Finally in 1969, Apollo 11 landed on the Moon and the commander Neil Armstrong exited the craft. As he was about to take his first step on the moon, he transmitted back to earth "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind"
Since then, space exploration has continued, not just with the U.S. and Russia but with many more countries such as China, India, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom.  Canada has also played an intricate roll: 1) we were the third country to design and construct its own satellite, 2) we developed the CanadaArm which has been used on shuttle missions, 3) we have an astronaut program, 4) Canadian astronauts have flown on missions and 5) right now, we are contributing a robotic system to ISS, the International Space Station. A new telescope called the James Webb Telescope will be ready in 2011. Canada is building the FGS (Fine Guidance Sensor) which will enable the telescope to align the mirrors when it unfolds in space and it also will provide accurate tracking. (James Webb Space Telescope)

However, space was really being explored long before the Americans and the Russians started to send up satellites and shuttles. People have been exploring space for hundreds of years. Astronomers gazed up into the stars, saw movements of light and called them planets. Then, along came the telescope and more planets were soon found. Over time they were able to keep track of the stars and their movements.

The Solar System
The solar system is our Sun and everything that spins around it, such as meteors, asteroids,comets, satellites and planets. The sun, the largest star, is at the centre and all objects orbit or revolve around it. (All stars give off light, everthing else [planets and moons] reflect that light.) Everything revolving around the sun travels counter-clockwise. Our solar system is egg shaped, called elliptical and is part of the galaxy called The Milky Way. It is thought that our system was developed over 4 billion years ago. What is not known for sure is exactly how it was formed.
The Sun
-sun is a star and it is so much closer to us that it looks bigger and brighter than other stars
-some of the same elements we have on Earth  such as carbon, hydrogen, helium iron
-is huge – remember it is 150 million km away (93 million mile )
-if the sun was the size of a basketball then Earth would be the size of a pinhead
-at 80 km/hr it would take 176 years of driving 24/7 to get there
-we feel the heat from it
-made up of gases
-not solid like earth , - is a big ball of exploding gases
-outer layers rotate differently
-near equator, sun rotates about 1every 25 days
-near poles, can be once every 35/36 days
-it takes light only 8 minutes to get to us
-gives us light, heat, and energy – plants can grow (photosynthesis), animals can eat
-creates our weather, affects our health, molded our lives
-it gives us the light to see – but can blind us
-it warms our planets but can cause skin-cancer
-without the sun Earth would be a frozen, dead planet

image from animation of solar flares
- commonly called falling or shooting stars
- meteoroids - debris just floating in the Solar System
- when they enter into the atmosphere (meteors)
- if they hit the ground - called meteorites
- are found 80 to 120 kilometers above the surface
- can be the brightest object in the sky
- are heated by friction when they enter the atmosphere so leave a glowing trail
- sometimes when Earth passes near a comet's orbit
and picks up comet debris - there are meteor showers
- showers can last a few hours to a few days 
- asteroids are bassically the same thing as meteors
- chunks of rock or rock with metals
- found between Mars and Jupiter - Asteroid Belt
- much smaller than planets
- called planetoids or minor planets
- all sorts - from tiny to  930 kilometers in diameter

- scientists think it comes from the left over material from the beginnings of the soar system
- comes in all shapes and sizes
- again is basically the same as meteors except this time everything is frozen
- has been thought of as giant dirty snowball - orbit the sun but it takes years - fast ones take 200 years
- when close to sun, begins to evaporate - debris and dust start to burn which make the ball glow
- gases behind the comet begin to burn - comet's tail is formed
- there are 2 types - Natural and Artificial
- Artificial includes rockets, spaceships etc
- Natural refers to the moons of all the planets
- variously sized objects orbiting the planets
- beginning 2004 there were 137 moons orbiting the nine planets
- Jupiter has the greatest number - 62
- most of the moons have names
- we usually call ours "The Moon" but it has a real name
- our moon is named Luna
- I am sorry to say there is no man that lives on the moon
image from spaceplace - Nasa
email me
The Nine Planets
There are eight planets in our solar system. All eight, with their moons, revolve (orbit) the sun. They all travel in the same direction which is counter clockwise. The four planets closest to the sun are called Inner Planets. The inner planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. These are separated from the other 4 planets by the Asteroid Belt. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus  and Neptune make up the Outer Planets.
Inner Planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars):  These planets are quite solid and are made up of rock and metals. They are considered to be heavy and therefore move slowly. They are also small planets with a diameter of no more than 13 000 km.  Outer Planets  (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune): The outer planets tend to be made of gases and are therefore not really solid. The two main gases are helium and hydrogen. Sometimes people think of these giant gas planets as huge balloons floating in space. The outer planets have a diameter of over 48 000 km.
Now for Pluto. This tiny dwarf planet is the smallest and because it is so far away not much is known about it. It is believed to be made of rock and ice with surface temperatures colder than - 200  C.
Using a telescope, all of the planets can be seen, even the dwarf, Pluto. Most can be seen just using binoculars. Very little is known about the new dwarf, 2003UB313, that was discover on Jan. 8, 2005. It is believed that it is a bit larger than Pluto.  
The Planets
Science Homepage
Grade 6
bj's MST
For detail on an individual planet just click on its name.
Astronomy for Kids-Planets
night and day
Copyright:  © 1999 Calvin J. Hamilton

Planets Or Not, Here We Come
Space Exploration Merit Badge
Space Colony Webquest
Space Mission to ????
Space Survival Challenge
Is Earth The Only Planet?
Hubble Space Telescope Webquest
Let's Build A City In The Solar System
What Is Living In Space Really Like
A Hotlist On Space Exploration
Resource Page
Copyright 2005, bj. All Rights Reserved.
More Links - HERE
Phases of the Moon Flip Book
Escape from Planet Earth
Three photos comparing the Earth to the other planets. Puts everything into perspective. Click Here
I guess it should be titled 'The Eight Planets'
Space Day Tool Kit and other resources.

- no longer 
planet status
A very good Power Point
presentation - WOW
Man In Space SJB.pps
Man In Space SJB.pps
May 4th
May 4th - Scroll Down