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Take a Journey through NASA's Fifty Years
and Continuing Exploration of our Solar System!

This solar-system montage of the eight planets and four large moons of Jupiter in our solar system are set against a false-color view of the Rosette Nebula.
This solar-system montage of the eight planets and four large moons of Jupiter in our solar system are set against a false-color view of the Rosette Nebula. Credit: NASA Planetary Photo Collection

October 2010-August 2012 (and beyond): A Martian Year of the Solar System!


What's a Martian Year?

A Martian year is the amount of time it takes for Mars to make one complete orbit around the sun -- 687 Earth days. It takes Earth about 365 -- Earth days to complete its annual journey around the sun. The reason it takes Mars longer is that it is farther from the sun and travels more slowly.

And why are we using Earth days as a measurement? Each planet spins on its axis at a different rate. So a day (sunrise to sunrise or sunset to sunset) on each planet is different.

WHY a Martian Year for the Year of the Solar System?

We had so many mission milestones and exciting research discoveries to celebrate, that an Earth year just wasn't long enough!

The Year of the Solar System (YSS) offers ways for you to get involved with NASA's amazing science discoveries!

As NASA spacecraft head to and arrive at key locations, YSS and the continuing salute to the 50 year history of solar system exploration provide an integrated picture of our new understanding of the solar system to educators and the general public!

YSS combines the amazing discoveries of past NASA planetary missions with the most recent findings of the ongoing missions, and connects them to the related planetary science topics!

On the YSS website find valuable hands-on science activities, resources and educational materials to engage students, families and the general public in planetary science topics and their related mission discoveries. This journey of discovery continues with the anniversary of 50 years of NASA Solar System exploration!

50th Anniversary Events: September 2012 -- December 2013

50th Anniversary of Solar System Exploration

During the last five decades, NASA has launched a variety of robotic spacecraft to study the planets and moons of our solar system. Over that time, our understanding of planets has been revolutionized, as has the technology that has made these discoveries possible.

Share the experience with your community through YSS resources!

How YOU Can Explore New Worlds and Make New Discoveries!

Each YSS topic highlights different aspects of our solar system, weaving together activities and resources, tied to the national science standards, which can be used to engage audiences in exploring the big questions of planetary science. The YSS Topics are arranged by these big questions and can be investigated on their own or as a series of connected explorations!

This is an unprecedented time in planetary sciences as we learn about New Worlds and make New Discoveries!


Find Inspiration

  • Mission Milestones and Discoveries
    • Learn about the different topics in YSS: Formation, Water, Moons and Rings, Volcanism, and More!
  • Educational materials and activities
    • Use educational activities for K-12 and undergraduate classrooms
    • Use educational activities for clubs/organizations and other out-of-school settings
    • Find background information for each topic
    • Download free resources such as bookmarks, the YSS calendar, PowerPoint files, and website widgets
  • Images and videos related to each YSS topic.


Illustration of two Kepler planets.


Get Involved Page

Get Involved

  • Host your own public event and share it on the YSS site! Registering your event is quick and easy and is a great way to get the word out about your program!
    • Share your own event, observing session, workshop, planetarium show, or other program!

    • Receive a YSS educator kit and promotional materials (while supplies last)!
  • Individuals and organizations are invited to submit photographs, artwork, music, or words of YSS experiences to our Share Your Stories page!
Registered Events will be displayed on the YSS Upcoming Events List and Map!

Make Connections

  • Upcoming YSS-related events are shown on the Calendar of Events. Events open to the public will be listed on the calendar, as well as shown on the map.
    • Find events near you!

Get Social

  • Use Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Flickr to share your events and to see what other people are doing.
    • Post a tweet with the hashtag #nasayss and your own tweet will show up on the YSS website.
Twitter Bird

Connecting NASA planetary missions, their research and their resources through the big questions in planetary science!

The Year of the Solar System and 50 Years of Solar System Exploration are supported by NASA's Science Mission Directorate and its Planetary Science Division.

Tell Us What You Think -- Take the YSS Surveys!

Got five minutes? Tell us what you think! The YSS Team has identified questions for particular aspects of the website. You are invited to take any one -- or all -- of these surveys. If you do take more than one, there will be some repetitive information at the beginning -- but we think this is better than one long survey!

YSS Website Usability

YSS Online Resources

Getting Involved in YSS

Thank you for your input!

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Featured YSS Resource: Night Sky Network Go StarGaze iPhone App - FREE! Featured YSS Resource: Solar System Lithograph Set Featured YSS Resource: From the Earth to the Solar System
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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2012