Lunar and Planetary Institute






Solar System - Resources - Websites
EXPLORE! Solar System

Websites

 

NASA's A Kid-Friendly Solar System offers bite–sized pieces of information for children ages 9 to 13. Other links lead to multimedia, updates on NASA missions, a listing of news and events, and more! Adults may enjoy browsing the full Solar System Exploration website.

NASA's Space Place offers Storybooks for You, where you can find the online books Professor Starr's Dream Trip: Or, How a Little Technology Goes a Long Way; Lucy's Planet Hunt: Or, how to see things in a different light; What's in Space?; Supercool Space Tools!; The First Annual Planet Awards available for viewing and printing.

Children ages 8 and up will find the NASA Kids' Club instructive and fun as they learn about the planets, play games, and view images.

American Museum of Natural History's Science Website for Kids – Articles, activities, images, and other interactive sources of information are provided on a variety of science topics, including the planets, stargazing, and more. For children ages 8–13.

Ask an Astronomer for Kids answers most of your burning questions about so many things including planets, black holes, and spacecraft! This site is great for children 9 to 13.

The Nine Planets for Kids offers basic concepts regarding the solar system and is very kid–friendly. This site is appropriate for children 9 to 12.

The Nine Planets is the older brother to The Nine Planets for Kids. A lot more in–depth information is provided. This website is suitable for young adults and older.

Ten-year-old Maryn created a new mnemonic for remembering the planets' — and some dwarf planets' — names: "My Very Exciting Magic Carpet Just Sailed Under Nine Palace Elephants." The slogan won National Geographic Children's Books Planet Contest and is featured in the online song "11 Planets" by Lisa Loeb.

Kids of all ages will enjoy listening to the music generated by the orbital frequencies of the planets around the Sun in Solarbeat. An accompanying animation and "years passed" counter helps them visualize the movement of the planets.

Views of the Solar System is another awesome site that offers a multitude of good introductory content about the solar system, including images, movies, animations, and illustrations (many copyrighted). The site is best for young adults and adults.

The Planetary Photojournal provides excellent copyright-free images of the bodies of our solar system. Aimed at ages 11 and up, the site is easy to navigate.

Windows to the Universe provides background information at beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels in many topics, including the solar system, Earth, and Jupiter.

NASA's Science Mission Directorate has a new website geared toward teens. Teens can keep up with NASA's latest mission results and peruse their multimedia pages for awesome images and podcasts. You can also follow NASA tweets!

Earth as a Peppercorn is a large-scale outdoor model of the solar system that can be used in place of or in addition to the Explore! solar system scale activities.

Spanning a Martian Year — 23 months — NASA's Year of the Solar System celebrates the amazing discoveries of numerous NASA missions as they explore our planetary neighbors and probe the outer edges of our Solar System. Each month from October 2010 to August 2012 will highlight different aspects of our Solar System — its formation, volcanism, gravity, ice, life elsewhere? — weaving together activities, resources, and ideas that public program providers, teachers, clubs, and organizations can use to engage audiences.

From Earth to the Solar System (FETTSS) is a collection of free high-resolution images covering the topics astrobiology, planetary science, and astronomy. The images can be downloaded for free from this NASA website and printed and displayed as exhibits or in other formats.

Jupiter

Cloud Layers and Red Spot on Jupiter
Watch Jupiter's bands of clouds flow and the Great Red Spot churn in these side–by–side animations.

NASA's Solar System Exploration Jupiter: Gallery
Print or browse this wide selection of images about Jupiter.

CICLOPS has several clips of Jupiter's distinct characteristics such as the Red Spot and the White Storm. The clips are great for any age.

Goddard Space Flight Center released "Largest" in September 2009, which is a movie that is viewed on a spherical screen called Science on a Sphere (created by NOAA). This is appropriate for all audiences.

The Kids Know It Network offers online videos for children 8–12 that offer basic information about the planet Jupiter.

The Outer Planets offers older children lots of information about the outer planets including moons, rings, Kuiper Belt Objects, and Extrasolar Planets.

National Geographic's "Jupiter" interactive offers graphics, animations, and descriptions of Jupiter's unique features in comparison with other planets. The reading level is appropriate for older children.

Galileo's Medician Moons is a gallery that provides older children and adults a virtual tour of the Galilean Satellites.

Goddard Space Flight Center has lots of Jupiter images and videos. This site is great for older children and adults.

The Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope has developed classroom curricula about Jupiter geared for ages 7–12.

Astronomy

Identify local astronomical societies by entering your zip code at Astronomical League or searching at Sky and Telescope.

Check out a short tour of interesting objects in this month's night sky Space Telescope Science Institute's Tonight's Sky movie, updated monthly. This is an especially useful resource for coordinating with your local astronomical society to showcase constellations, deep sky objects, and planets. Happy stargazing!

Use the tools at the Night Sky Network's Night Sky Planner to plan a stargazing event or connect with current sky events. Find sky charts, information about the rise and set times for the Sun and Moon, Moon phase, and weather forecasts for your location.

Stellarium is planetarium software that shows exactly what you see when you look up at the sky — during the day or night. It's easy to use, and free. Appropriate for use with children ages 10 and up.

Children ages 10 and up and adults will enjoy the stunning, detailed imagery of the sky and solar system objects offered by the Microsoft product WorldWide Telescope. "Fly" to any planet, spin its globe, and "zoom in" to see landforms or clouds. Take "guided tours" — some of which are narrated by NASA scientists — of the sky and Mars. Explore the constellations and "zoom in" to see the Milky Way and nebulae. 

The Solar System Ambassadors Program is a public outreach program in which volunteers communicate the excitement of JPL's space exploration missions and information about recent discoveries to people in their local communities.

Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy site offers a knowledgeable take on common misconceptions in astronomy and space science — and at the movies. Lots of fun and very informative, this site written for young adults to adults helps educators tackle misconceptions directly.

The Afterschool Universe Program Curriculum consists of 12 sessions that cover topics such as stars, galaxies, and more.  The hands-on activities are targeted at middle school out-of-school-time settings and have been rigorously pilot-tested and evaluated. Facilitators can find training videos on the Afterschool Universe YouTube channel.

Magnetic Fields

The Exploratorium offers Auroras: Paintings in the Sky, where you can find a self-guided tour about the auroras (or northern and southern lights) and Earth's magnetic field.

Visit www.spaceweather.com for news, information, and images relating to the Sun and Earth, including auroras. For a fee, sky watchers of all ages can sign up for the astronomy alert service, Spaceweather PHONE.

Weather across the Solar System (including Earth!)

Kids take a tour of the solar system's extreme weather in NASA Space Place Planet X-treme Weather. The website is designed for elementary-aged children.

Solar System Origins

Evolution of the Solar System is a graphic timeline of our solar system's birth and evolution. There is a gallery and accompanying activity for youth ages 12–17.

Put the formation of our own solar system into context with BANG! The Universe Verse: Book 1, an exploration of the Big Bang through rhyme and art. Although the downloadable booklet is intended for all ages, the high level of the science makes this a great read for children 10 and up. The Universe Timeline is a nice summary of the immense span of time between the Big Bang and the solar system's formation.

Missions

NASA's Solar System Missions site provides information about all the missions in our solar system — past, present, and future — with links to the mission Web pages. Many of the missions listed have educational materials.

Eyes on the Solar System combines video game technology and NASA data to create an environment for users to ride along with NASA spacecraft — including Juno — and explore the cosmos. Appropriate for ages 8 and up.

NASA's Juno webpage provides information on the JUNO mission as well as images, animations and audios. This site is great for older children and adults.

Connect with the Juno mission at http://www.facebook.com/JunoJupiter, the official Facebook page for NASA's Juno mission. This site is appropriate for older children and adults.

Children ages 8 and up and adults may enjoy exploring the interactive Juno mission education and public outreach website. Music, videos, animations, and text accompany the narrator's guided tour of various aspects of Jupiter. There is also information about the spacecraft, its instruments, its launch and journey to Jupiter, and the science questions that Juno will help answer. A counter shows the time remaining until launch, and visitors (ages 13 and up) may sign up to receive updates via email.

NASA 360 New Worlds, New Discoveries
Children ages 8 and up and adults may enjoy the interviews with scientists, footage of spacecraft as they are being built, and energetic hosts. Visit the site to find out about NASA's new missions to Jupiter, Mars, the Moon, and more. This resource may be used to support NASA Year of the Solar System events and other science programs.

Direct children to the NASA Space Place page, "Mission to Jupiter" for kid-friendly facts about the giant planet. Visitors can also read about NASA's upcoming Juno mission to Jupiter... and even play JunoQuest!

NASA's New Horizons webpage offers information about the mission to the dwarf planet Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. The site is appropriate for older children and adults.

The goal of the Dawn Mission is to characterize the conditions and processes of the solar system's earliest epoch by investigating in detail two of the largest protoplanets remaining intact since their formations — Ceres and Vesta.

The Cassini spacecraft successfully went into orbit around Saturn in 2004. In December 2004 it released the Huygens probe, which reached the surface of Titan in January 2005 and provided a wealth of information about this moon. Videos and more has tons of videos and animations for people of all ages.

The Genesis Mission collection and return of particles of the solar wind was a banner sample return event. While the parachute failed during the sample return capsule's descent to Earth's surface, scientists will be reaping results from the materials for years to come — helping us to better understand how our solar system formed. The Genesis Education site provides materials for educators.

The Mars Exploration Rover mission sent rovers Spirit and Opportunity to the surface of Mars to search for evidence of past water — and they found it! Life as we understand it requires water. The findings of the Mars rovers will prompt future exploration looking for evidence of past or present life on the Red Planet.

The MESSENGER mission to the planet Mercury launched in 2004 and arrived at this little-studied planet in 2011.

The Stardust mission sampled the tail of Comet Wild 2 in January 2004 and returned sample material in January 2006. Comets are "leftovers" from the formation of our solar system, and samples will help scientists understand what the composition of our early solar system was like and what processes occurred in the development of our wide "neighborhood."

In 2005,The Deep Impact mission propelled a projectile into the surface of a comet to create a huge crater. Not only did this allow scientists to understand the cratering process, but they were able to study a fresh comet surface and gain insights into how our solar system formed.

On February 17, 1996, the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission was the first Discovery Program mission to launch a spacecraft. The NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft is the first to orbit and land on an asteroid — Eros.

The Magellan mission site offers Venus images and other highlights from the mission.

Last updated
August 8, 2013

 

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