An illustration of the Sun and planets

Solar System Exploration


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

Solar System Overview

The solar system has one star, eight planets, five dwarf planets, at least 290 planetary moons, about 1.4 million asteroids, and about 4,000 comets (including fragments). Our solar system is located in the Milky Way, a barred spiral galaxy with two major arms, and two minor arms. Our Sun is in a small, partial arm of the Milky Way called the Orion Arm, or Orion Spur, between the Sagittarius and Perseus arms. 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.

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

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 eight planets, and five dwarf planets.

Gray-colored asteroid Bennu is shaped like a spinning top.

About 1.4 million asteroids, and about 4,000 comets are in our solar system.

Our solar system has more than 200 planetary moons.

A swirling Milky Way Galaxy, with our Sun seen on the outskirts.

Our solar system is in one of the Milky Way galaxy’s spiral arms called the Orion Spur.

Sun and planets in solar system

Our solar system takes about 230 million years to orbit the galactic center.

Spitzer Milky Way 1600px

The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy.

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

Our solar system has many worlds with many types of atmospheres.

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.

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NASA’s Planetary Radar Tracks Two Large Asteroid Close Approaches

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More About the Solar System

Orange sun with colorful planets trailing out to one side.

Planet Sizes and Locations

A colorful. symbolic thermometer showing planets in our solar system ordered from hottest a the top to coldest at the bottom. The top of the graphic is red, then it fades to orange, yellow, green, then blue. It has illustrations of the planets.

Temperatures Across Our Solar System

A black and white drawing of Johannes Kepler showing him with dark hair, a mustache and beard, and wearing a high collar shirt with lace around the edges.

Orbits and Kepler's Laws

A white, grey, and black pixelated image, with three bright blobs spaced out across the center, and circled in white.

All About Asteroid Apophis

Skywatching Tips

NASA's guide to the night skies.

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