Picturing the Poles

Beyond the asteroids lies Jupiter. Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system. The NASA spacecraft Juno is orbiting Jupiter.

Jupiter spins faster than any other planet in the solar system. This spin creates belts of gas that run from east to west. The north and south poles have no gas belts. They have large, swirling storms.

This drawing shows how Juno looks as it orbits Jupiter.

Farther and Further

In 2006, NASA launched a spacecraft named New Horizons from Jupiter. Nine years later, it flew past Pluto. It showed us pictures of huge mountains. They were made of water-ice. Pluto is so cold that this material is as hard as rock.

How were the mountains formed? Scientists want to learn more about them.

New Horizons is still going. It flew past the farthest object ever visited, Arrokoth. Arrokoth is made of two objects stuck together. It looks like a snowman in space!

This drawing is based on images taken by New Horizons. It shows Arrokoth.

Voyager now explores interstellar space, as shown in this drawing.

Arrokoth is far, far away. But some spacecraft have traveled even farther. Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were launched by NASA in 1977. Voyager 1’s mission was to fly by Jupiter and Saturn. Voyager 2 flew by Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

Both spacecraft are still sending data back to Earth. They are now exploring interstellar space. That’s the region between stars. This is the first time spacecraft have traveled this far.

Why do we explore the solar system? Because we are part of it. We want to know more about the place where we live. Each mission teaches us more.