MORE

There are more planets than stars in our galaxy. The current count orbiting our star: eight.

The inner, rocky planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. NASA's newest rover — Perseverance — landed on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021. The outer planets are gas giants Jupiter and Saturn and ice giants Uranus and Neptune.

Beyond Neptune, a newer class of smaller worlds called dwarf planets reign, including longtime favorite Pluto. Thousands more planets have been discovered beyond our solar system. Scientists call them exoplanets (exo means "from outside.")

Planets of our Solar System

What is a Dwarf Planet?

They key difference between a planet and a dwarf planet is the kinds of objects that share its orbit around the Sun. Pluto, for example, has not cleared its orbit of similar objects while Earth or Jupiter have no similarly-sized worlds on the same path around the Sun. Like planets, dwarf planets are generally round (Haumea looks like an overinflatred football) and orbit the Sun.

There are likely thousands of dwarf planets waiting to be discovered beyond Neptune. The five best known dwarf planets are: Ceres, Pluto, Makemake, Haumea and Eris. Except for Ceres, which lies in the main asteroid belt, these small worlds are located in the Kuiper Belt. They’re considered dwarfs because they are massive, round, and orbit the Sun, but haven't cleared their orbital path.

Real-Time, Interactive Solar System

Real-Time, Real Data: Your Galactic Neighborhood

This simulated view of our solar system at the top of this page (and below) runs on real data. The position of the planets, moons and spacecraft are shown where they are right now. This digital orrery (a model of the solar system) runs on a light, mobile-mobile friendly version of NASA's Eyes on the Solar System software.

This snapshot focuses on active NASA missions and select ESA missions. Showcasing the entire operating international fleet is too much of a data wallop at the moment (but we are working on it!). Active international missions such as Japan's Akatsuki Venus Orbiter and ESA and Japan's Mercury-bound BepiColombo are not yet available.

Use the HD button to upload higher resolution imagery of the planets. It may not work properly on older mobile devices. Have fun, and keep exploring.

Related News