Objects found in the solar system have characteristics based on surface features and atmosphere (if there is one). These objects move via orbit/revolution and/or rotation.
Rotation vs. Revolution
- Planets may have either a terrestrial (rocky) surface or a gaseous surface. Gaseous planets are considerably larger than terrestrial planets.
- Planets may have rings or other unique surface characteristics.
- Movement of planets is based on revolution (orbit) around the Sun and rotation (turning) on the planet’s axis.
- Moons are studied in relation to the planet they orbit. Not all planets have moons.
- Most are rocky bodies covered with craters, but some have unique characteristics.
- Movement of moons is based on revolution around their planets and rotation on their axis.
- Most asteroids are rocky bodies that orbit in a region in the solar system known as the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter.
- They vary in size and shape.
- Movement is based on their revolution around the Sun.
- Some asteroids outside the asteroid belt have orbits that cross Earth’s orbit, which require scientists to monitor their positions.
- Comets have a main body or head (ice, methane and ammonia and dust) and a tail that emerges as the comet gets closer to the Sun during its orbit.
- The effects of the solar winds result in the tail always points away from the Sun.
- Comets have long, narrow, elliptical orbits that cause them to cross paths with other objects in the solar system.
- Most comets originate from regions of the solar system that lie beyond the orbit of Neptune.
- Meteors are chunks of rock that burn upon entering a planet’s atmosphere.
- Prior to entering the atmosphere the chunks of rock move about within the solar system and are known as meteoroids.
- When the chunk of rock strikes the surface of a planet or moon it is known as a meteorite.