The inner planets of the solar system are the four planets of Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.
The closest inner planet to the Sun, Mercury is 48 million miles away from the Earth at its closest point in orbit. It is a mere 28.6 million miles away from the Sun at its closest point in orbit. Mercury orbits the Sun every 88 days and rotates around its axis every 58.65 days. Temperatures can range from -300 degrees Fahrenheit to 800 degrees Fahrenheit. Closely resembling the moon, the surface of Mercury is marked by craters from billions of years of cosmic collisions.
Similar in size to Earth, and therefore called Earth’s “Sister Planet,” Venus is 25 million (40,233,600 kilometers) miles away from the Earth. Its orbit is the most circular of all the planets; it is 67 million miles from the Sun at its closest point and 68 million miles away from the Sun when it’s at its farthest point, a “mere” 1 million mile difference. Venus takes about 243 Earth days to make one rotation about it’s axis. The amount of time it takes to revolve around the Sun is less than that: about 226.3 days. This means daytime in Venus lasts for about 115 days, allowing temperatures to rise. Temperatures on the inner planet of Venus average about 867 degrees Fahrenheit. The surface of Venus is blocked by a dense atmosphere consisting of Carbon monoxide. Clouds of sulfuric acid are highly reflective, making Venus the brightest object in the night sky, save for the Moon.
Our home planet, Earth, is the largest of the inner planets. It ranges from between 91 and 94.5 million miles away from the Sun during its orbit. Temperatures range from -128 degrees Fahrenheit to 136 degrees Fahrenheit. From space, the Earth looks blue and white. The surface of the Earth is marked by large oceans and smaller land segments called tectonic plates.
Mars is about 35 million miles away from the Earth and ranges from 128 million miles and 155 million miles away from the Sun. Its day is similar to that of the Earth at about 24.6 hours and takes the equivalent of 1.88 Earth years to orbit the Sun. Also known as the “Red Planet” due to the layer of iron oxide covering the planet, Mars also marked by a number of craters. However the atmosphere of Mars is enough to prevent the sort of impacts that we see marking the Moon’s surface. This atmosphere is very thin and subjects Mars to the harsh solar winds.
I hope you enjoyed discovering some of the basic facts and figures about the inner planets. Our solar system is a vast, expansive place, full of mystery and wonder. There is so much more to learn about the inner planets, our solar system, and the universe; click on the links below to learn more!