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Space Showdown: Gas v. Rock v. Asteroid
Science Soup
Posted: January 01, 2022


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Out of nothingness, God formed the eight planets and set them in place to orbit a star. With care, He sprinkled space with other stars, moons, satellites, gases, dust, and rocks. The Creator carefully ordered our solar system around the Sun. The planets’ order is helpful when studying them. All eight fit into one of two categories: Gas Giants and Rocky Planets. Between the two sets of planets, a band of space debris also orbits the Sun. That band is called the Asteroid Belt.

The Rocky Planets are the four planets closest to the Sun. They are Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars. Each of these planets has a visible solid surface. Each has mountains, plains, and valleys. The four Rocky Planets are smaller than the four Gas Giant planets. They don’t have rings like some of the Gas Giants do either. Scientists have discovered water on the surface of Mercury, Earth, and Mars. (Venus does not have water.)

The Gas Giants are the four planets farthest from the Sun. They are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Gas Giants don’t have well-defined surfaces since these planets are mostly made of gases. There isn’t a clear boundary between a Gas Giant’s atmosphere and surface. Light gases like hydrogen and helium make up these planets. Scientists don’t yet know what’s at the center of the gas planets. It’s possible that one or more may have a hard core. Or maybe they’re like thick, super-hot soup deep inside.

Because Jupiter is so large, it has a great gravitational pull. Because it is made of gases, it absorbs space stuff like comets and rocky asteroids when they collide with the planet. In 1994, scientists noted a brown spot on Jupiter. It was a “scar” in the gas surface where a comet had been pulled into the planet by that strong gravity. Astronomers say the giant gas planets beyond the Asteroid Belt sometimes protect the Rocky Planets from collisions with objects hurtling through space.

Isn’t it wonderful that God placed the planets in our solar system just the way He did?

Click here for for an infographic about Jupiter.