There's a lot more to the universe than just planet Earth. Astronomy is a field of study covering the entire universe, from giant planets to the tiniest flow of energy. The sun is the center of the solar system. Astronomers named this massive star "Sol," which is where we get the word "solar." Over the course of 4.5 billion years, the solar system has formed into what it is today, part of a galaxy filled with gases, dust, and billions of stars. Stars, including our solar system's star, the sun, are made of helium and hydrogen. A group of stars connected by an imaginary line is a constellation, and people have made up constellations in the shapes of animals, mythological characters, and objects.
Our solar system includes eight major planets and a few dwarf planets, like Pluto and Ceres. In orbit closest to the sun are the inner planets, which are made of metals and minerals and have rocky surfaces. These planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. Our solar system neighborhood also includes asteroids, chunks of rock and metal. An asteroid belt, a region of space containing many asteroids, separates the inner group of planets from the outer planets, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Mostly made of gases, these giants have only a core of solid mass.Also in orbit in our solar system are comets, which are like dirty snowballs made of frozen gases and ice.
How big is the universe? No one knows, but we know that it has many galaxies light years away from the one where we live. A light year is how astronomers measure distance in outer space: One light year is six trillion miles. With technology, math, telescopes, and satellite images, scientists are finding better ways of exploring the galaxy. It has been more than 50 years since a human first went into space, and today, we keep working to find out more about what's out there in the universe and how it all works.
Choose your level of difficulty and match the pictures of the planets before you have no more chances to try. It's a real test of your memory skills as you learn about the solar system.
Fly to Mars
Look at Earth and Mars's alignment on the screen to figure out the best time for launching a spacecraft from Earth. It's not as easy as it looks!
Build a Solar System
Drag and drop planets around the sun to create a personalized solar system with this online science game to better understand planetary rotation and orbit.
Learn all about the nine different known types of galaxies in the universe, then build your own universe by figuring out where each one should get placed.
Learn about how planets and stars evolve by building stars or planets or even establishing forms of life, as a million years pass in just a minute's time in this game.
Deflect an Asteroid
Keep the asteroids from hitting Earth by using bombs and other tools before your time runs out.
Magnetic fields direct how charged particles move in space. With the launcher, you can use magnetic fields in this pinball game to send particles as far as Jupiter, if you can pass the first few levels.
The Great Escape
Can you get photons of light to travel from the core of the sun to its surface? Use the arrow keys and pay attention to the letters of the maze to find your way.
Find the Features on Mars
In this interactive game, look at pictures to see if you can find the past and future Mars landing spots with no wrong guesses.
Surfing the Solar System
In this scavenger hunt, players get clues about different parts of the solar system. Each answer brings you closer to revealing a tourist hot spot in our solar system.
Magneto Mini Golf
Guide proton balls through the electric and magnetic fields on the planetary greens to sink them into the putting hole. If you answer a few questions correctly, you can get a bonus.
Push different particles together to create a fusion reaction. Not all particles will produce fusion, so you have to combine the right ones to make a reaction happen.
As an asteroid, take in smaller asteroids to become a planet without getting sucked into the gravitational fields of bigger planets, which will demolish your asteroid.
Into Space 2
Fly your rocket up as high as you can into space and earn money to get rocket upgrades. Can you fly all the way to Mars?