Orange sun with colorful planets trailing out to one side.

Solar System Exploration


Join us as we explore our planetary neighborhood: The Sun, planets, moons, and millions of asteroids, and comets.

featured missions

Illustration of the surface of Europa - shown as icy blue - with Jupiter behind it, and the Europa Clipper spacecraft in front of Jupiter.

Launching Oct. 10, 2024, to Jupiter's icy moon, Europa.

This artist's-concept illustration depicts the spacecraft of NASA's Psyche mission near the mission's target, the metal asteroid Psyche.

Launched on a mission to a metal-rich asteroid, arriving 2029.

The image is zoomed in on Earth's globe, which takes up the entirety of the frame. In front of it hovers a metal box with wings.

On its way to explore asteroid Apophis.

Lucy_Eyes-640x480

En route to Jupiter's Trojan asteroids.

Exploring the surface of Mars since 2021.

An artistic visualization of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft hovering above the surface of Asteroid Bennu. The spacecraft is silver, shiny with two wings on the top and a long extension from the bottom.

Delivered asteroid Bennu sample in September 2023.

NASA Curiosity rover used the Mars Hand Lens Imager MAHLI to capture the set of thumbnail images stitched together to create this full-color self-portrait.

Exploring the surface of Mars since 2012.

spacecraft above lunar horizon with Earth in background

Orbiting the Moon since 2009.

BepiColombo Mission

En route to Mercury orbit in 2025. *ESA/JAXA-led.

Illustration of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter over Mars.

Orbiting Mars since 2006.

artist's concept of MAVEN and Mars

Orbiting Mars since 2014.

Mars Odyssey orbiter over the north polar region

Orbiting Mars since 2001.

Artist's concept of Mars Express at Mars.

Orbiting Mars since 2003. *ESA-led.

NEOWISE spacecraft icon

Asteroid and comet hunter since 2009.

Orbiting Jupiter since 2016.

Exploring the Kuiper Belt since 2015.

Artist's concept of the JUICE spacecraft.

Jupiter moon arrival in 2034. *ESA-led.

Solar System Overview

The solar system has one star, eight planets, five dwarf planets, at least 290 moons, more than 1.3 million asteroids, and about 3,900 comets.

It is located in an outer spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy called the Orion Arm, or Orion Spur. Our solar system orbits the center of the galaxy at about 515,000 mph (828,000 kph). It takes about 230 million years to complete one orbit around the galactic center.

We call it the solar system because it is made up of our star, the Sun, and everything bound to it by gravity – the planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune; dwarf planets Pluto, Ceres, Makemake, Haumea, and Eris – along with hundreds of moons; and millions of asteroids, comets, and meteoroids.

Our solar system is the only one we know of that has a planet that supports life. So far, we only know of life on Earth, but we’re looking for life on other worlds.

NASA's Europa Clipper

Watch Us Build the Spacecraft

NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft will launch in October 2024 on a mission to determine if Jupiter’s moon Europa could support life below its icy surface. Watch live as Europa Clipper is built and tested at our Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California.

Watch Clipper Cam
Illustration of the surface of Europa - shown as icy blue - with Jupiter behind it, and the Europa Clipper spacecraft in front of Jupiter.
An illustration of NASA's Europa Clipper spacecraft above the surface of Europa and in front of Jupiter.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Things to Know About Our Solar System

Man in a white spacesuit stands on the Moon's surface facing a U.S. flag. The side of the lunar lander is visible.

Who Has Walked on the Moon?

Composite image of Pluto and Charon

Find Your Pluto Time

The Sun glows as it sets in the sky over Mars.

What Do Sunrises and Sunsets Look Like on Mars?

Animated GIF showing two views of MU69.

10 Things to Know About the Kuiper Belt

Our Daily Skywatching Guide

A detailed guide to the night sky written by a NASA expert featuring full Moon lore, asteroid flybys, stars, galaxies, constellations, and more.

Learn More
A plane can be seen flying in front of the full Moon.

10 THINGS about our solar system

This is an updated montage of planetary images taken by spacecraft managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. Included are from top to bottom images of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

Our solar system has a star, eight planets, five dwarf planets, and thousands of asteroids, and comets.

Spitzer Milky Way 1600px

Our solar system orbits the center of the Milky Way galaxy. We’re in one of the galaxy’s four spiral arms.

Sun and planets in solar system

It takes our solar system about 230 million years to complete one orbit around the galactic center.

Sun in Milky Way

There are three general kinds of galaxies: elliptical, irregular, and spiral. The Milky Way is a spiral galaxy.

The blue limb of Earth as viewed from the space station.

Our solar system has no atmosphere. But it has many worlds – including Earth – with many kinds of atmospheres.

Our solar system has more than 200 moons.

The four giant planets – and at least one asteroid – have rings.

Man in the moon with American flag

More than 300 robotic spacecraft have left Earth's orbit, and 24 U.S. astronauts have traveled to the Moon.

Earth blue marble photo

So far, Earth is the only place we've found life in our solar system, but we’re looking.

Artist's rendition of NASA's Voyager spacecraft

The Voyagers are the only spacecraft to reach interstellar space.

Eyes on the Solar System: A real-time visualization of our solar system using planetary science data.
NASA/JPL-Caltech
Featured Story

Spot the King of Planets: Observe Jupiter

Jupiter is easy to observe, and well-documented by astronomers. Learn more about the King of the Planets in February's mid-month…

Read the Story

Only two spacecraft have reached interstellar space, the space between stars. Three other spacecraft have achieved enough velocity to eventually travel beyond the boundaries of our solar system.

Voyager Illustration
An illustration depicting one of NASA's twin Voyager spacecraft. Both Voyagers have entered interstellar space – the space outside our Sun's heliosphere.
NASA/JPL-Caltech
  • Voyager 1 went interstellar in 2012 and Voyager 2 joined it in 2018. Both spacecraft, launched in 1977, are still in communication with Earth.
  • NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is currently exploring an icy region beyond Neptune called the Kuiper Belt. It eventually will leave our solar system.
  • Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 also will ultimately travel silently among the stars toward the galactic core. The spacecraft used up their power supplies decades ago.
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