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.


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.

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.

Earth Day 2024

This year, you can celebrate Earth Day with NASA wherever you are! Check out our Earth Day Toolkit.

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An artist's concept showing sea creatures swimming in the ocean.
Eyes on the Solar System: A real-time visualization of our solar system using planetary science data.

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.

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A strip of images showing the Sun in different stages of being eclipsed by the Moon.
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