Can You Answer These Basic Questions About the Solar System?


By: Allison Lips

5 Min Quiz

Image: adventtr/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

We call the third rock from the sun home, but how much do you really know about it and the other bodies located in the solar system? Every planet has its own characteristics. Some are known for their rocks and volcanoes. Others are known for being mostly made of gas. Some are extremely hot. Others are extremely cold. Can you name the planets with each of those properties?

Planets are not the only objects sharing our solar system. There are dwarf planets, meteors, asteroids, moons, and suns. Each one is just as unique as the nine major planets. Do you know the difference between them? Can you explain how Pluto is different from Mercury? How is a meteor different from an asteroid? Do you know how many moons Saturn has? If so, you should get 100 percent!

While you may be thinking that there are still many mysteries in the solar system, this quiz is not going to test you on obscure galaxies and the names of specific remote galaxies. We'll leave those questions to NASA's physicists, astronomers, and astronauts, who spend every day seeking answers to the biggest questions. However, you should be able to answer all the questions on this basic solar system quiz. Did you pay attention in science or did all that knowledge enter a black hole? Let's find out! 

Which planet doesn't have rings?

In 1979, NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft discovered Jupiter's rings. The rings are made of small, dark particles, which makes them difficult to see without the sun back-lighting them.


Which planet is the largest in the solar system?

Jupiter has more than twice the mass of all the other planets in our solar system combined. It also has 79 known moons.


Pluto's status was downgraded to what?

At approximately 1,400 miles wide, Pluto is half the width of the United States. Its atmosphere is made of carbon monoxide, methane, and nitrogen.


What galaxy is Earth located in?

Currently, the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy are moving toward each other at 250,000 miles. In about four billion years, the two galaxies will collide.


What is the star at the center of the solar system called?

The sun's temperature varies. On the surface, the temperature is approximately 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. In the core, the temperature is over 28 million degrees Fahrenheit.


Which spacecraft was the first man-made object to have left the solar system?

In 2017, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 celebrated 40 years in space. Both Voyagers carry a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk with sounds and images from Earth.


Which planet is the closest to the sun?

Mercury has a metallic core that is between 2,200 to 2,400 miles wide. The core makes up approximately 75 percent of Mercury's diameter, making it the second densest planet in the solar system.


Which is the hottest planet in our solar system?

Venus' surface temperature can reach over 880 degrees Fahrenheit. Venus is so hot because its thick atmosphere makes it difficult for heat to escape.


How long does it take light from the sun to reach Earth?

Sunlight takes three minutes to reach Mercury. For comparison, it takes approximately 5.3 hours to reach Pluto.


How many planets, not including dwarf planets, are there in our solar system?

The eight planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. The International Astronomical Union also recognizes five dwarf plants.


Which of these is not a dwarf planet?

Ceres is the closest dwarf planet to Earth. It is located in the Kuiper belt, where it is the largest object.


Which planet did the rovers Spirit and Opportunity visit?

Spirit and Opportunity left Earth in 2004. Once in Mars' atmosphere, Opportunity landed at Meridiani Planum, while Spirit landed at Gustav Crater.


Which of these is not a type of star?

The sun is referred to as a yellow dwarf. However, this is imprecise. Technically, the sun is classified as a G-type main-sequence star.


Approximately how often can Halley's comet be seen from Earth without help?

Halley's comet is named after astronomer Edmond Halley. The most recent siting of Halley's comet occurred in 1986.


Which two planets it the asteroid belt located between?

The asteroid belt contains millions of asteroids. Most of these asteroids are made of rock and stone.


Which planet is home to the Great Red Spot?

The winds in Jupiter's Great Red Spot peak at around 400 mph. NASA reports that the storm has been shrinking for a century and a half and could possibly disappear.


Which planet is the second largest in the solar system?

Saturn is a gas giant. It's made mostly of hydrogen and helium. It also has the lowest density of all planets in our solar system.


Which two planets are considered ice giants?

Despite their shared classification, Uranus and Neptune are not believed to have much solid ice. However, NASA thinks there is a massive liquid ocean beneath the planets' clouds.


How many moons does Earth have?

The moon's average distance from Earth is 238,855 miles. It's closest distance is 225,700 miles. It's furthest is 252,000 miles.


Which part of the solar system contains small bodies mostly made of ice?

Short-period comets start from the Kuiper Belt. These comets take less than 200 years to orbit the sun.


What force pulls objects toward planets and other bodies?

Not only does gravity keep the moon orbiting around Earth, but it also keeps the Earth and other planets in orbit around the sun. However, gravity gets weaker the more distance there is between objects.


Which one of Saturn's moons is believed to be a lot like Earth?

Titan is the only other body in the solar system that has standing bodies of liquid. In a process much like Earth's water cycle, Titan also has liquids rain from clouds, flow across the surface, and evaporate back into the sky.


Which space rock is colloquially called a "shooting star?"

Meteoroids form when a small piece of asteroid breaks off. When a meteoroid survives a journey through the Earth's atmosphere, it becomes a meteorite. Meteors are meteoroids that vaporized in the Earth's atmosphere.


What do we call it when the moon passes between the Sun and Earth?

A total solar eclipse happens approximately every year and a half. However, it is not visible everywhere. A partial solar eclipse occurs at least twice a year.


What primarily composes the terrestrial planets?

Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars are the terrestrial planets. They are also the four smallest in the solar system.


What contains most of the solar systems known mass?

The Sun is by far the most massive object in the solar system. It contains 99.86 percent of the known mass.


Which planet is home to "Olympus Mons?"

Olympus Mons is a large volcano on Mars. It is the largest in the Tharsis Montes region.


Which planet has the most moons?

Jupiter has 67 moons. The largest are Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto.


Which planet is the third brightest object in Earth's sky?

Venus has the most volcanoes in our solar systems. It has more than 1,600 known volcanoes.


How long does it take Earth to orbit the sun?

The Earth completes an orbit approximately every 365.5 days. Every four years, an extra day is added to account for the discrepancy .


A place in space with so much gravity not even light can escape, is called what?

Scientists study black holes by examining how strong gravity affects objects around them. If a star and a black hole are close to each other, high-energy light is emitted.


Which planet is the smallest in our solar system?

Mercury orbits the sun every 88 Earth days. It takes 59 Earth days to rotate on its axis.


What is the name of the leading explanation of how the universe began?

In 1927, Georges Lemaitre suggested that the universe started as a single point. His theory was that the universe expanded in size and could continue to do so. Edwin Hubble discovered the same thing two years later.


Which planet is not named after a God?

Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter were named after Roman gods. Uranus was named after the Greek god of the sky.


Which planet spins in the opposite direction of the rest?

Scientists believe that Venus initially spun in the same direction as the other planets in our solar system. At some point, Venus' axis flipped 180 degrees, which would explain why its rotation appears reversed.


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