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The Solar System[a] consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it,

all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass (well over 99%) is in the Sun. Of the many objects that orbit the Sun, most of themass is contained within eight relatively solitary planets[e] whose orbits are almost circular and lie within a nearly flat disc called the ecliptic plane. The four smaller inner planets, Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars, also called the terrestrial planets, are primarily composed of rock and metal. The four outer planets, the gas giants, are substantially more massive than the terrestrials. The two largest, Jupiter and Saturn, are composed mainly of hydrogen and helium; the two outermost planets, Uranus and Neptune, are composed largely of ices, such as water, ammonia and methane, and are often referred to separately as "ice giants". The Solar System is also home to a number of regions populated by smaller objects. The asteroid belt, which lies between Mars and Jupiter, is similar to the terrestrial planets as it is composed mainly of rock and metal. Beyond Neptune's orbit lie the Kuiper belt and scattered disc; linked populations of transNeptunian objectscomposed mostly of ices such as water, ammonia and methane. Within these populations, five individual objects, Ceres, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake and Eris, are recognized to be large enough to have been rounded by their own gravity, and are thus termed dwarf planets.[e] In addition to thousands of small bodies[e] in those two regions, various other small body populations, such as comets, centaurs and interplanetary dust, freely travel between regions. Six of the planets and three of the dwarf planets are orbited by natural satellites,[b] usually termed "moons" after Earth's Moon. Each of the outer planets is encircled by planetary rings of dust and other particles. The solar wind, a flow of plasma from the Sun, creates a bubble in the interstellar medium known as the heliosphere, which extends out to the edge of the scattered disc. The hypothetical Oort cloud, which acts as the source for long-period comets, may also exist at a distance roughly a thousand times further than the heliosphere. The Solar System is located in the Milky Way galaxy, which contains about 200 billion stars.

Brief Description of Our Solar System

The solar system is big. Everything that happens in it affects Earth, including the energy and solar wind from the Sun and comets that stray away from their own orbits. Everything that makes Earth livable for humans has to do with distance from the Sun and the relative size of both. Earth is the third planet from the Sun, but is only a short distance to the edge of the solar system.

1. Features

Everything in the solar system revolves around and is influenced by the sun, including four inner planets, an asteroid belt, four outer planets, comets, asteroids and dwarf planets.


The solar system formed 4.6 billion years ago out of a cloud, which condensed into a disk, and materials conglomerated to form the sun, planets and other solar bodies.


From the Sun stretching to the inner planets, asteroid belt, outer planets, Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud of comets, the solar system is about 100,000 AU in diameter (1 AU is about 93 million miles).

Fun Fact

Pluto, discovered in 1930, was reclassified as a dwarf planet in 2006 after a larger asteroid, Eris, was found. Scientists also discovered that Pluto and Charon orbit each other with small objects orbiting both.


Throughout much of history, people thought the solar system and universe rotated around the Earth. Nicolaus Copernicus mathematically proved the opposite in the 1500s.

SGS Solar System Description

January 1, 2006 Update The Solar System located at the Springerville Generating Station (SGSSS) was designed to be built in phases with a fully completed continuous generating capacity of 8,000 AC kW. The system was designed around installation of 64 building block systems with a nominal size of 125 AC kW per system. Blocks were configured in two different sizes to accommodate PV modules of different efficiencies. While the fully completed system will use 88 acres of ground, the initial leveling was 38 acres, for 24 unit blocks. A second phase of ground preparation in 2003 developed an additional 20 block locations on 20 y Technical details of the Solar Array acres. Leveling was performed in a manner to y Display of Current Solar Production barely disturb the ground to leave as much native vegetation in place as possible. A water permeable dust/erosion control agent was placed on the soil after leveling to promote growth of the native grasses. Growth of weeds is being controlled by manual removal until such time as the native grasses reestablish themselves as the dominant species. The native grasses generally reach a full growth height of about 8 inches and the lower edge of the PV modules are placed 8 inches above the ground. The modules are fixed, south facing with a tilt of 34 degrees from the horizontal. While the area is fenced to keep out cattle, lizards and small mammals have moved back into the area and use the PV modules for shade. PV array blocks located on the east side of the field are built on a footprint of 300 feet north to south by 140 feet east to west, and will accommodate PV modules with efficiency of 10% or more. Today, twenty-six (26) of these blocks have been completed, all of them using crystal silicon PV modules of type 300 DG/50 from RWE Schott. Each unit uses 450 of the modules for an STC DC power rating of 135 kW. Blocks located on the west side of the field are built on a footprint of 300 feet north to south and 250 feet east to west, and will accommodate PV modules with efficiency of 5.5% or more. Four (4) of these blocks have been completed each with 2,688+ Cad-Tel First Solar FS-50 PV modules for an STC DC rating of 134.4+ kW. Four (4) others units are completed each with 3000 a-Si BP Solarex MST-43 PV modules. These units have an STC DC rating of 129 kW. All units use a Xantrex PV-150 inverter to convert the variable 300 to 600 volt DC power to 208 volt 3 phase AC power. The inverters have a maximum rating of 157 kVA, at which point they will limit output or come off line, followed by an automatic restart. Each unit has a DC disconnect, 208 to 480 volt step-up/isolation high efficiency transformer, revenue meter and AC disconnect. Because of the high conversion efficiency and fast response time of the inverters, in April 2005 the maximum inverter power level allowed was limited in software to 92% of rated capacity to prevent overloading the system AC grid components during cloud enhanced solar insolation conditions. Groups of four (4) units are connected in parallel to each of eleven 500 kVA 480 volt to 34,500 volt high efficiency step up transformers. Each transformer has a continuous rating of 500 kVA and can accommodate up to 650 kVA for brief intervals. The high voltage sides

of the transformers are connected in parallel in a daisy chain configuration to a 34.5 kV underground distribution line which connects to the overhead 34.5 kV distribution line which feeds the well field pumps of the Springerville Generating Station. The pumps operate continuously with an average load of about 10,000 kW. The SGS Solar System is a customer based distributed generation system providing power to the pumps. As the distribution line is connected to the main switchyard at SGS, any excess energy produced will flow through the switchyard to the grid. The system produces the most power capacity during the cooler months of the year when the sun is near latitude angle. This typically occurs in March and April. Solar insolation at the 6650 foot elevation site has been measured at over 1,500 watts per sq-meter in these months for short periods and at over 1,300 for one minute averages. These events occur during cloud passage which creates strong sunsplash conditions. The actual AC output of the units during severe sunsplash have been measured at 157 kW for 10 second averages. Consequently, the short term power output rating of the system with 34 units installed is an actual 5,113 kW measured for a one minute average on December 6th, 2004. The revenue meters measure 15 minute power output. Actual measured 15 minute average unit AC energy outputs in 2004 total 4,644 kW for the full system. Thus we are rating the total 15 minute AC system output at 4,644 AC kW. However, while these system output conditions must be taken into account during system design, they are not an indication of long term energy output. The annual net AC energy production in 2005 was 7,532,420 kWh. Based on experience with the installations to date, we expect the annual net AC energy production from the 34 units to be just over 7,650,000 kWh in 2006. Energy production reliability of the inverters was 99.92% and reliability of the entire PV system was 99.81% in 2005. Continued expansion plans are currently on hold while module prices awaiting a reduction in module prices to below pre 2004 levels. Future plans are to install 125 AC kW units on ten (10) prepared pads in 2007 and to prepare land and power distribution infrastructure in 2007 for the final 20 units. The type of PV modules to be installed in that final phase will be in large part determined by actual energy production of existing systems as well as installed cost data bid for PV equipment. The system operates as an unmanned site and is monitored continuously via an Internet based communications channel. Nearly all operational functions can be performed by remote control, including inverter reconfiguration. Alarms are logged. Data is taken from each of the 34 inverters and the revenue meters on 10 second scan cycles and averaged for one minute archiving. Performance information is developed from the raw data and reviewed in Excel spreadsheet and graphical chart form daily. Spare parts are maintained on site and local based service personnel dispatched to site to perform repairs in response to alarms

Our Solar System

Mercurys Facts: Diameter: 4,880 km Distance from the Sun: 57,910,000 km. Length of year 88 Earth days Surface temperature: midday 420 degrees C. Moons: none Mercurys Description: Mercury is the greek god of Roman Mythology. Mercury is a purpleish color. It is filled with craters and rocks. Mercury has no moons and no atmosphere. On Earth we can look through a telescope, but can not see anything on its surface. Venus Facts Diameter: 12,100 km Distance from the Sun: 108,000,000 km. Length of year 225 Earth days Surface temperature: midday 430-480 degrees C. Moons: none Venus has usually been called Earths sister planet because of its similar size and proximity to Earth. The surface of Venus is mostly hidden. Venus could be the brightest thing in the sky besides the sun and moon. Since its orbit is inside that of the earth we can only see Venus if we look in the direction of the Sun. This bright planet (Venus) is known as during the few hours before sunset as "The Evening Star," or before sunrise Venus is called "The Morning Star." The orange-brown image of Venus is a false color. Earth Facts

Diameter: 12,760 km Distance from the Sun: 190,000,000 km. Length of year 365 Earth days Surface temperature: midday 22 degrees C. Moons: one Earth Description Earth is the largest and the densest rocky planet, which was created about 4.5 billion years ago. The Earths interior is composed of mostly iron and oxygen. Also combined with various elements into different mineral forms. Earth is divided by four layers which is typical of rocky planets. Earth has a unique surface from the other planets because it is the only one which has liquid water in such large quanities. Mars Facts Diameter: 6,670 km Distance from the Sun: 228,000,000 km. Length of year 687 Earth days Surface temperature: midday -23 degrees C. Moons: Phobos and Deimos Mars Description Mars is the red planet named after a Roman God of war. It is the fourth planet from the sun. It has always been easy to see so we dont know who discovered Mars. You can see it because of its red color. Mars is an Earth like planet because Giovanni Schiaaparelli thought there were many water canals on Mars. Mars has many geological characteristics. For one thing, it has the largest volcanic mountain, Olympus Mons (27 km high and 600 km across), in the solar system. Mars has two small moons, which are Phobos and Deimos. Nobody knows how the two small moons formed. They could be asteroids snarled by Mars gravity.

Jupiter Facts Diameter: 143,760 km Distance from the Sun: 778,000,000 km. Length of year 11.9 Earth years Surface temperature: midday -240 degrees C. Moons: 16

Jupiter Description Jupiter has an immense, complex atmosphere, with lightning and swirls of huge storm systems. The Great Red Spot is a giant storm that has existed for more than 100 years, and perhaps longer, as the great astronomer Galileo Galilei reported seeing a similar structure almost 380 years ago! Jupiter has sixteen different moons and several rings. You could even call it a "mini solar system." Some moons are icy and some are rocky. Some are cratered, and some are amazingly smooth.

Saturn Facts Diameter: 120,420 km Distance from the Sun: 1,427,000,000 km. Length of year 29.5 Earth years Surface temperature: midday-300 degrees C. Moons: Mimas, Enceladus, Tethys, Dione, Rhea, Titan, Hyperion, Iapetus, and Phoebe Saturn Description

Saturn is made mainly of hydrogen and helium. It has no definate surface. It is surrounded by seven rings made up of ice and dust particles. Uranus Facts Diameter: 51,120 km Distance from the Sun: 2,869,000,000 km. Length of year 84 Earth years Surface temperature: midday -410 degrees C. Moons: Miranda, Ariel, Umbriel, Titania, and Oberon Uranus Description Uranus was discovered in 1781.Its rings were not discovered until nearly 200 years later.Uranus is made up of rock, water, methane and ammonia. Its atmosphere is made up of hydrogen and helium. Uranus spins on an axis at right angles to the other planets. Neptune Facts Diameter: 49,538 km Distance from the Sun: 4,497,000,000 km. Length of year 165 Earth years Surface temperature: midday -410 degrees C. Moons: Naiad, Thalassa, Despina, Galatea, Larissa, Proteus, Triton, and Nereid

Neptune Description Neptune is the eighth planet away from the Sun. Neptune was located through mathematical predictions instead, of being through regular observations of the sky. This planet was discovered in 1846. 17 days later its largest moon called Triton was discovered. Neptune orbits the sun once in every 165 Earth years. Neptunes rotational axis is tilted 30 degrees to the plane of its orbit around the sun. The winds

on Neptune are over 2,400 km (1,500) miles per hour. In 1989 Voyager 2s flyby, there was a large oval dark spot in Neptunes hemisphere.

Pluto Facts Diameter: 2,280 km Distance from the Sun: 5,913,000,000 km. Length of year 249 Earth years Surface temperature: midday -446 degrees C. Moons: Charon Pluto Description Pluto was discovered in 1930. It is the outermost planet in the solar system most of the time but its path cuts across Neptune's making Neptune the farthest planet for a time. The planet is made up of frozen water and methane.


Our solar neighborhood is an exciting place. The solar system is full of planets, moons, asteroids, comets, minor planets, and many other exciting objects. Learn about Io, the explosive moon that orbits the planet Jupiter, or explore the gigantic canyons and deserts on Mars.
What Is The Solar System? The Solar System is made up of all the planets that orbit our Sun. In addition to planets, the Solar System also consists of moons, comets, asteroids, minor planets, and dust and gas.

Everything in the Solar System orbits or revolves around the Sun. The Sun contains around 98% of all the material in the Solar System. The larger an object is, the more gravity it has. Because the Sun is so large, its powerful gravity attracts all the other objects in the Solar System towards it. At the same time, these objects, which are moving very rapidly, try to fly away from the Sun, outward into the emptiness of outer space. The result of the planets trying to fly away, at the same time that the Sun is trying to pull them inward is that they become trapped half-way in between. Balanced between flying towards the Sun, and escaping into space, they spend eternity orbiting around their parent star.
How Did The Solar System form? This is an important question, and one that is difficult for scientists to understand. After all, the creation of our Solar System took place billions of years before there were any people around to witness it. Our own evolution is tied closely to the evolution of the Solar System. Thus, without understanding from where the Solar System came from, it is difficult to comprehend how mankind came to be.

Scientists believe that the Solar System evolved from a giant cloud of dust and gas. They believe that this dust and gas began to collapse under the weight of its own gravity. As it did so, the matter in this could begin moving in a giant circle, much like the water in a drain moves around the center of the drain in a circle. At the center of this spinning cloud, a small star begin to form. This star grew larger and larger, as it collected more of the dust and gas that were collapsing into it. Further away from the star that was forming in the center were smaller clumps of dust and gas that were also collapsing. The star in the center eventually ignited forming our Sun, while the smaller clumps became the planets, minor planets, moons, comets, and asteroids.