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TITLE: The Solar System


The Big Picture
The Earth is one small planet in a vast Solar System. It formed as a byproduct of the Sun's birth—along with all the other planets, moons, asteroids, meteoroids, and comets.


[Photo Link: Birth of the Solar System]
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Birth of
the Solar System

[Photo Link: Take a Planetary Tour]
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Take a
Planetary Tour

[Photo Link: Samples of the Solar System]
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Samples of
the Solar System

[Photo Link: How to Make a Planet]
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How to Make
a Planet


The Moon
A mere 386,000 km (240,000 mi) away, the Moon is our closest neighbor. From lunar rocks, we have learned that this body's amazing origins are intimately linked to the Earth's. Yet, the Moon bears little resemblance to our own planet. The quiet Moon we see today belies the violence of its distant past.

 

[Photo Link: Our Celestial Neighbor]
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Our Celestial
Neighbor


[Photo Link: Geologic History of the Moon]
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Geologic History
of the Moon


Impacts
The collision and sticking together of objects is the fundamental process that formed the solid bodies in our Solar System and continues to shape them today. From the first gentle clumping together of tiny grains to the catastrophic asteroid impact that probably killed off Earth's dinosaurs, collisions have left their imprint on all the rocky bodies arrayed around our Sun.

[Photo Link: Accretion: From Dusk to Planets]
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Accretion: From
Dust to Planets

[Photo Link: Anatomy of an Impact]
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Anatomy of
an Impact

[Photo Link: Impacts: Evidence on Earth]
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Impacts: Evidence
on Earth

[Photo Link: Impacts on Other Worlds]
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Impacts on
Other Worlds


Meteorites
Meteorites are precious rocks that preserve material from the birth of the Solar System 4.6 billion years ago. Some are actual pieces of the original matter from which the planets were assembled. Others are fragments of asteroids that grew hot enough to develop crusts, mantles, and cores. When these extraterrestrial rocks land on Earth, they provide an extraordinary opportunity to piece together the history of our Solar System's birth and evolution.
 

[Photo Link: Discovering Meteorites]
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Discovering
Meteorites


[Photo Link: Meteorite Classification]
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Meteorite
Classification

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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Department of Mineral Sciences website Credits