The Planets

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






Explore the Solar System

Mercury from Messenger

The swiftest planet.

Storm clouds in white and pale red encircle Venus.

Earth's superheated twin sister.

rotating earth

Our homeworld.

Rusty-red Mars with a haze of white clouds and a white north polar cap.

The Red Planet.

Image of Jupiter that Christopher Go took and processed.

King of the planets.

inner rings around saturn fading

Jewel of the solar system.

Uranus appears as a bright, turquoise planet.

The original ice giant.

Neptune is a bright, deep blue in this image.

The farthest planet in our solar system.

Color enhanced image of Pluto that shows a heart shape.

A small world with a big heart.

Planets beyond the solar system.

Our solar system can be divided into three regions: the inner solar system, the outer solar system, and the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud.

The inner, rocky planets are MercuryVenusEarth, and Mars. These worlds also are known as terrestrial planets because they have solid surfaces. Mercury, Earth, and Mars are currently being explored by spacecraft. Two rovers are on the surface of Mars. NASA's newest rover — Perseverance — landed on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021. Three missions are in development to return to Venus.

The outer planets are gas giants Jupiter and Saturn and ice giants Uranus and Neptune. NASA's Juno spacecraft is on an extended mission at Jupiter and ESA's JUICE mission is on the way. NASA also is building Europa Clipper and Dragonfly to explore moons of Jupiter and Saturn.

Beyond Neptune, a newer class of smaller worlds called dwarf planets reign, including longtime favorite Pluto. NASA's New Horizons spacecraft visited there in 2015, and is currently exploring the Kuiper Belt beyond Pluto. Thousands more planets have been discovered beyond our solar system. Scientists call them exoplanets (exo means "from outside").

What is a Planet?

This seemingly simple question doesn't have a simple answer.

What is a Planet?
labeled planets in photo of night sky

Is There Another Planet in the Solar System?

We don't know. It's an intriguing idea that might explains some current mysteries, but direct evidence of another planet has yet to be found.

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A dark, bluish planet is shown orbiting far from the Sun in this artist's concept.
This illustration shows the distant view from Planet Nine back toward the Sun. The planet is thought to be gaseous, similar to Uranus and Neptune. Hypothetical lightning illuminates the night side.
Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC)

Onward to Venus!

Dr. Lori Glaze, NASA's Director of Planetary Science, talks about the importance of NASA's upcoming return to Venus.

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Close-up view of Venus showing a complex landscape of mountains, craters and lava flows.
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