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The Solar System

In the Solar System Channel, you can explore the planets and celestial objects around our own sun. Learn about topics such as Mars, Jupiter and the Moon.

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How Sunspots Work

Sunspots are peculiar dark areas that show up regularly on the surface of the sun -- and often for no reason. What causes them? What effect could these funny little spots have on the Earth?


How do planets form?

It's tough to wrap your mind around a time when the Earth wasn't here. So how do Earth and the rest of the planets out there get their start in the universe? See more »

What's more important, water on the moon or on Mars?

Scientists have discovered the existence of water on both our moon and on Mars. Both findings are significant, but what do they mean? Can we use this information to our advantage for space exploration? See more »

Could an extremely powerful solar flare destroy all the electronics on Earth?

The occasional sunspot can interrupt communications here on Earth. But major solar flares have the potential to cause more havoc. Could a flare-up wipe out all our electronics? See more »

How Sunspots Work

Sunspots are peculiar dark areas that show up regularly on the surface of the sun -- and often for no reason. What causes them? What effect could these funny little spots have on the Earth? See more »

What are Saturn's rings made of?

Although other planets have rings, none are as spectacular as Saturn's. What makes the planet's stratified rings, and how did they get there in the first place? See more »

Is there really a face on Mars?

After Viking 1 captured images of what looked like a face on Mars, the public began to speculate. Had Martians carved a colossus, or was there another answer? See more »

How Lunar Eclipses Work

The only thing that's lurking in the shadows during a lunar eclipse is the moon. When Earth's shadow blocks sunlight from directly illuminating a full moon, you're witnessing a lunar eclipse. See more »

What and where is the dark side of the moon?

The changing phases of the moon have given us an enduring curiosity about the dark side of the moon. But is there really a dark side of the moon? What would we see there? See more »

Is there really water on Mars?

Until recently, most people assumed that if Mars had liquid water, it no longer did and hadn't for quite some time. But scientists have recently noticed some anomalies in photos of Mars that may suggest there is water. Could there be life, too? See more »

What if I looked straight at an eclipse of the sun?

You've probably heard that staring at the sun is bad for your eyes. Even a few seconds can damage your eyes. But what if you looked at a solar eclipse? See more »