Top 10 Strangest Facts About the Solar System

VOICE OVER: Noah Baum WRITTEN BY: Christopher Lozano
The solar system is the incredible home to our amazing planet Earth... But sometimes the solar system is just plain weird! For this list, Unveiled counts down the strangest, most bizarre, unusual and unexpected facts about the solar system. Including facts about Uranus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter, this is the trivia they don't teach you in science class! What do you think? What's the weirdest fact you know about space and the solar system?

Top 10 Strangest Facts About the Solar System

Space sure is an interesting place. This is Unveiled, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 10 strangest facts about our solar system.

For this list, we’ll be looking at some of the most unbelievable and astonishing facts about our little corner in the Milky Way Galaxy.

#10: The Moon Came from Earth

The current theory about how the moon was formed is known as the giant-impact hypothesis. It suggests that soon after the solar system formed, a large object the size of Mars collided with the Earth. This object is sometimes referred to as Theia. It is thought that Theia impacted Earth directly and the two planets fused to form what is now our planet. The debris from this massive collision formed rings around the Earth, which later coalesced into what we know as the Moon today.

#9: Rings Aren’t Rare

Saturn and Jupiter aren’t the only planets with rings. As we just learned, The Earth may have had a ring at one point in its past that became the Moon, while two other planets in our solar system still have rings to this day - Neptune, which has five rings, and Uranus, which has 13 distinct but small ones of its own. Planetary Rings are typically composed of common materials and even small moons. They can form when planets collide with objects like asteroids or can even form from planetary ejections like volcanoes. Some moons, like Saturn’s Rhea, may even have their own faint ring systems.

#8: One Season on Uranus Lasts Decades

A season on Earth relates to its position around the Sun and it takes 365 days for us to orbit through all of the four seasons. Similar to Earth, Uranus has 4 seasons as well. However, since it takes Uranus 84 Earth Years to completely move around the Sun, each of its seasons lasts 21 years. Such a long summer sounds great, but a 21-year winter could be pretty rough. Because of Uranus’ unique orbit, the planet’s surface also gets exposed to extremely long periods of light and darkness. At the poles, there is 42 years of darkness followed by 42 years of light.

#7: There Are Secret Oceans Out There

It’s well known that over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered in ocean. This big blue body of water is where life originated, and it continues to sustain it. What is less well known, however, is that there are many more oceans out there in the solar system. Even more interesting, is the fact that they aren’t all made of water. The tumultuous moon of Jupiter, Io, for example, has surface oceans made of lava. Meanwhile, Europa likely has an ocean of unknown composition under its surface. Other moons like Ganymede and Dione, among others, also have oceans, albeit often only internal ones.

#6: Storms That Won’t Say Die

On Earth, a storm can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few days. The longest recorded storm on Earth lasted over 30 days, but that’s nothing compared to some of the storms on Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune. Jupiter’s infamous Great Red Spot is actually a storm that has likely been spinning for at least 350 years, and probably longer. It is a storm 1.3 times as wide as our planet Earth. Saturn also has a mega storm called Saturn’s Hexagon located on its North Pole. Neptune’s giant storm, known as the Great Dark Spot, was first observed in 1989 and is thought to be dissipating, but a new Northern Great Dark Spot was found in 2016.

#5: Mars Has 'Visited' Us!

It turns out that we have been visited by Martians before, but we’re not talking about little green aliens. Tens of thousands of meteorites have been found on Earth. Meteorites are small fragments of rock from space that crashed here via asteroid, comet or meteoroid. Of those discovered on Earth, hundreds have been found to be from our red neighbor. Scientists are able to compare argon content levels measured by the Mars rover to confirm that these meteorites are in fact Martian. It is thought that they were ejected into space after asteroid collision and eventually traveled across the solar system to us.

#4: There Are Water Volcanoes

On Earth, volcanoes are protrusions through which magma from the upper mantle flows to the surface. This lava is extremely hot and is both a great destructive and creative force. It can melt and destroy anything in its path, yet it creates land and leads to new life. Out in the solar system, volcanoes abound too, and some of these replace the magma with water. Saturn’s moons Titan and Enceladus have been found to have ice volcanoes that erupt with H2O. Scientists have begun to hypothesize that these cryovolcanoes may be a common occurrence in the outer, colder regions of our solar system.

#3: Jupiter Is the Solar System’s Vacuum Cleaner

We’ve learned that collisions between asteroids and planets can cause things like the formation of our moon, planetary rings, and Martian meteorites, but it’s believed that Jupiter actually protects us and the rest of the inner planets from many large collisions. As the largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter has the strongest gravitational pull. This means that many objects end up colliding with it. It’s a good thing it does this since the Earth would be a lot less stable if it didn’t. We’d possibly have many more asteroid and meteor impacts, and as we know, those can have devastating consequences if the objects in question are large enough.

#2: Metal Snow & Diamond Rain Exist

If you’re on Venus, Jupiter, or Saturn, you won’t want to be singing in the rain. We’re used to rain that consists of water that is either moderately warm or cold. On Venus, the atmosphere consists mostly of Carbon Dioxide and, high in its atmosphere, the rain is made of sulfuric acid. Elsewhere on Jupiter and Saturn, carbon in the atmosphere is thought to likely turn into soot because of lightning storms. It then falls through the thick atmospheres to form diamonds. Back on Venus, instead of ice caps there are mountains capped with metal. It can also get so hot that certain metals melt, form a mist, reform, and fall back to the surface in the form of metallic snow.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Io Smells like Eggs

Mercury Is Still Shrinking

#1: We Technically Live ‘Inside the Sun’

When we talk about a planet, we usually include its atmosphere. Earth’s atmosphere extends up to 300 miles from the planet’s surface. It consists of nitrogen, oxygen, argon, and carbon dioxide. But what about the sun? The life-giving star at the center of our solar system has an atmosphere of its own, consisting of a photosphere, chromosphere, and corona. Beyond that, the gases that emanate from the Sun extend past Pluto. This means, that in a certain sense, we are actually living inside the Sun - or at least its atmosphere. We usually think of the solar system as a collection of individual and isolated planets, but we may be more connected than you think.
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