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The fourth planet from the sun

 A rocky object in orbit around the sun.

Kuiper belt     An area of the solar system beyond the orbit of Neptune. It is a vast area containing leftovers from the formation of the solar system that continue to orbit the sun. Many objects in the Kuiper belt are made of ice, rock, frozen methane and ammonia. The best known of the larger Kuiper Belt objects is the dwarf planet Pluto. The belt extends out from the sun at a distance of 30 to 55 astronomical units. (An astronomical unit is equal to Earth’s from the sun.)

lunar     Of or relating to Earth’s moon.

Mars     The fourth planet from the sun, just one planet out from Earth. Like Earth, it has seasons and moisture. But its diameter is only about half as big as Earth’s.

microscope     (adj. microscopic) An instrument used to view objects, like bacteria, or the single cells of plants or animals, that are too small to be visible to the unaided eye.

mineral     Crystal-forming substances that make up rock, such as quartz, apatite or various carbonates. Most rocks contain several different minerals mish-mashed together. A mineral usually is solid and stable at room temperatures and has a specific formula, or recipe (with atoms occurring in certain proportions) and a specific crystalline structure (meaning that its atoms are organized in regular three-dimensional patterns). (in physiology) The same chemicals that are needed by the body to make and feed tissues to maintain health.

moon     The natural satellite of any planet.

NASA     Short for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Created in 1958, this U.S. agency has become a leader in space research and in stimulating public interest in space exploration. It was through NASA that the United States sent people into orbit and ultimately to the moon. It also has sent research craft to study planets and other celestial objects in our solar system.

Neptune     The furthest planet from the sun in our solar system. It is the fourth largest planet in the solar system.

orbit     The curved path of a celestial object or spacecraft around a star, planet or moon. One complete circuit around a celestial body.

particle     A minute amount of something.

physics     The scientific study of the nature and properties of matter and energy. Classical physics is an explanation of the nature and properties of matter and energy that relies on descriptions such as Newton’s laws of motion. A scientist who works in such areas is known as a physicist.

planet     A celestial object that orbits a star, is big enough for gravity to have squashed it into a roundish ball and has cleared other objects out of the way in its orbital neighborhood.

planetary science     The science of planets other than Earth.

Pluto     A dwarf planet that is located in the Kuiper Belt, just beyond Neptune. Pluto is the tenth largest object orbiting the sun.

solar flare     An explosive event that takes place on the sun when energy that has built up in ‘twisted’ magnetic fields (usually above sunspots) becomes suddenly released. The energy can in minutes heat to many millions of degrees, emitting a burst of energy. That energy consists of radiation across the electromagnetic spectrum, from gamma rays to radio waves.