Solar System

Text in quotes and italics are direct from the sites.


Mercury • VenusEarthMarsMissionsComets & Asteroids

NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassadors program.  Find someone in your area to give a presentation.  Ambassadors (almost 300) are in every state. 

"The Solar System Ambassadors Program is a public outreach program designed to work with motivated volunteers across the nation. These volunteers communicate the excitement of JPL's space exploration missions and information about recent discoveries to people in their local communities."

NASA's newly designed site for everything.

Planetary Society

Independent organizaton follooiwing and promoting planetary research and missions

Eyes on the Solar System

    New Aug. 2011.  NASA site ""Eyes on the Solar System" is a 3-D environment full of real NASA mission data. Explore the cosmos from your computer."

Planetary and Space Science Centre

    At the University of New Brunswick, Canada.  Data bases on Earth impacts and the Regional Planetary Image Facility (RPIF).

Views of the Solar System

    Straight forward information about the solar system.  Images, data, and lesson plans.  An online fact and textbook on our Solar System.

Online Books on Planetary and Lunar Science and Exploration

    FREE online books on planetary and lunar science from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Discovery Program

    "The Discovery Program's prime objective is to enhance our understanding of the Solar System by exploring the planets, their moons and small bodies such as comets and asteroids."

    A NASA site with lots of educator materials.

Exploring the Planets in the Classroom

    "More than 25 hands-on science activities are provided in classroom-ready pages for both teachers and students for exploring Earth, the planets, geology, and space sciences."

Cyber-Center, Exploring the Planets

     Lesson plans for planetary instruction.

Solar System for Kids

    A NASA site about the Solar System specifically for younger students.

Probes and Fly-by Spacecraft

    From the National Air and Space Museum.

Exploring the Planets

    This website is maintained by the National Air and Space Museum. Nicely laid out and easy to navigate. There are no lesson plans or teacher areas here, but would be a very good resource for information. 

Solar System Exploration

    This is a NASA site devoted to the Solar System and planetary exploration.  There is a teachers area and a students area.   Lots of NASA help here.  Lots of things to look at and do in the students section. (Teachers should take a look at these sections, too.)

Science Education Gate-Way -SEGway

    "The Science Education Gateway (formerly SII) is a collaborative NASA project which brings together the expertise of NASA scientists, science museums, and K-12 educators to produce NASA science-based Earth and space science curricula for classroom and public use via the World Wide Web. SEGway materials are produced by teachers in locally-grown collaborations with program staff at nearby partnering science museums. The partnerships support teacher-developers in achieving the goals of teaching Earth and space science online, and provide them with the training technical support needed for their curriculum projects."

    The categories here are Space Science, Sun/Earth, Solar System. Each category has a list of resources with grade level suggestions.  These, as far as I have found, are all web based lessons, so web access is a must.


    Covers the Solar System and Earth Science.  There is good basic information here, somewhat like an encyclopedia, but not much in the way of lesson plans and activities.  Links to related sites. What I really don't like about this site is the annoying pop up ads and the flashing advertising along the borders. But, these things have to be paid for some how.

Amazing Space, Space Telescope Science Institute - Education Page

•Solar System Trading Cards

    Description / overview of the lesson:

    "The students will collect solar system trading cards by playing an interactive card game. They will identify the sun, planets, comets, and asteroids by answering questions about them. Students will learn facts about the solar system presented with amazing pictures taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and various NASA missions."

Welcome to the Planets

    A complete online guide to the planets.  A good research tool for students especially as a comparison to newer information. No lesson plans or guides for teachers.

U.S. Geological Service, Flagstaff Field Office

    This page displays a map of the planets where you can choose to find more information about planets or selected planetary satellites.

    Also links to related sites and pages on Space Science, Water and Ice Studies, Earth Science, Biological Resources, and Images which included planetary and Earth from space images.

    Could be a useful resource for enhancing classroom lessons.

U.S.G.S. Planetary GIS Web Server - PIGWAD 

    PIGWAD? Now that's funny... This site offers geology information, maps, GIS, - all kinds of cool ways to study the geology of planets and moons.  This site is primarily for researchers, but a creative teacher could find ways to make use of the information here.

USGS Astrogeology Research Program

    A very straight forward site about the solar system - and beyond.  No teacher materials, but a good resource for student research.  Many links to other related sites (hey, why redo what's already been done!?)  

    There is a spot for kids called Astro Kids: "Welcome to Astro Kids, the USGS Astrogeology Research Program's web page just for kids! This is your guide to what's the coolest stuff to see on our web site and the World Wide Web! This page will grow and grow, so visit us often!"

The Nine Planets

    "The Nine Planets is an overview of the history, mythology, and current scientific knowledge of each of the planets and moons in our solar system. Each page has text and images, some have sounds and movies, most provide references to additional related information. "

NASA Planetary Photo Journal

    "This service, developed as a collaboration between NASA's Planetary Data System Imaging Node, the Solar System Visualization Project [many of the links on this page are dead], and JPL's Media Relations Office, is designed to provide you with easy access to the publicly released images from various Solar System exploration programs. The system database is currently populated with approximately 2700 images; more are being added every day."

NASA's Observatorium

    "NASA's Observatorium is a public access site for Earth and space data. We have pictures of the Earth, planets, stars, and other cool stuff, as well as the stories behind those images."

    This site includes teachers guides on how to use the site in the classroom. "A teacher's guide has been developed to accompany each article in the Observatorium. These guides are very basic, providing teachers with a start in the right direction. We encourage educators to print the guides and use them in the classroom or at home. Happy teaching!"


    This NASA site contains lessons on the Solar System, Space, Universe, and a Glossary with two learning levels. Intended for ages up to 14. For 14 and up see Imagine the Universe.

Space Library

    An interesting site with solar system viewing. Planets can be looked at from other planets. There are surface maps of the planets and star maps. Very different.

Solar System Live

    Shows the positions of the planets at the current time (or any time). Interactive.

Silicon Spaceships

    "With GeoVirgil, you can explore the planets. It loads in NASA's scientific data sets, does some image processing and helps you create a maps. "

This software allows you to download planetary images, including Earth, and analyze them.  Planetary research and learning about features.

Exploring the Planets

    "Exploring The Planets highlights the history and achievements of planetary explorations, both Earth-based and by spacecraft." 

This site is maintained by the National Air and Space Museum (Smithsonian). Online activities as well as a lot of solar system information.

Solar System Simulator

    Solar System Simulator is a joint NASA/JPL/Caltech site that allows you to see a simulation of any planet and many of their moons from any planet or moon or selected spacecraft.

    "The Solar System Simulator originated as JPL's SPACE software package, which consisted of a set of computer graphics programs designed to simulate spacecraft trajectories and produce various photographic and video products. The SPACE package was specifically designed for animating space missions and was uniquely suited to JPL mission design."

Online Atlas of Venus 

    By Planetary cartographer Ralph Aeschliman

Project CLEA


Digital Library for Earth System Education

    "DLESE is a geoscience community resource that supports teaching and learning about the Earth system. DLESE is funded by the National Science Foundation and is being built by a distributed community of educators, students, and scientists to support Earth system education at all levels."

Google Earth

    Unlike Google Mars, below, you have to download Google Earth.  If you want a higher functioning version you have to pay for it.  A better choice might be NASA's World Wind.

    Zoom around Earth

Earth Observatory

    "Welcome to NASA's Earth Observatory, where you can monitor regional and global changes on our planet almost as they happen. Here you can explore with NASA scientists the causes and effects of climatic and environmental change through the use of real satellite data." 

    No teacher resources here. The images would be useful if building your own lessons.

Studying Earth's Environment from Space

    "This site is organized in a modular style based on Earth science topics studied by scientists using environmental data collected by satellites. Four modules have been developed. The Stratospheric Ozone and Global Land Vegetation modules are ready for use and have been reviewed by the NASA Earth Science Enterprise Education Product Review Committee. The Oceanography and Polar Sea Ice Processes modules are currently under review. "

    Nice set of  classroom materials including textbook, exercises, and software.  It seems that the Oceanography and Polar Sea Ice are mostly together or maybe all there.  The statement quoted above has not been updated since 2003.

NASA Earth Observing System

    This is the central entrance point for all NASA Earth observing missions.  The site is maintained by Goddard Spaceflight Center and has an educators section that links to all Earth observing educational sites.

ESA Earth Observing

    European Space Agency Earth Observing site.  No education specific pages, but some great information and images.


Messenger Mission


Wikipedia - Venus 

The Nine Planets - Venus

NASA Solar System Exploration

Windows to the Universe - Venus


Google Mars

    Explore Mars in real pictures and elevation maps.

Online Atlas of Mars

    PDF files of the atlas of Mars.  A higher resolution version is available on CD-ROM. By Planetary cartographer Ralph Aeschliman

New Mars Atlas

    From Malin Space Science Systems, Mars Global Surveyor

Mars Student Imaging Project

    "NASA and Arizona State University’s Mars Education Program is offering students nationwide the opportunity to be involved in authentic Mars research by participating in the Mars Student Imaging Project (MSIP). Teams of students in the 5th through 12th grade will have the opportunity to work with scientists, mission planners and educators on the THEMIS team at ASU’s Mars Space Flight Facility, to image a site on Mars using the THEMIS visible wavelength camera onboard the Mars Odyssey spacecraft which is currently orbiting Mars every 2 hours."

    That pretty much says it.  Here is a way for students to get involved in real science. The way education should be.

Arizona Mars K-12 Education Program (Arizona State University)  

    Educational activities dealing with current Mars missions.

    Activities of the ASU Mars Education Program include the Mars Student Imaging Project (MSIP).

The Planet Mars 

    All about Mars aimed at middle school students according to the web page author.  No teacher section or lesson plans.  Useful for research about Mars.  Up to date.

JPL Mars Education 

    The primary focus of this education program at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is to educate teachers and students, K-12, on Mars exploration. Educators will find curriculum guides, a CD-ROM, pictures, and the latest information about past, present, and future Mars missions. - JPL seems to have stopped updating this site in 2005

3D images

    Mars images with some images in red-blue anaglyphs. 3D glasses are needed, but well worth buying if you want to look at online 3D images.

The glasses can be bought in quanitity from or from many sources at for single purchase better quallity glasses.

Pluto Specific:

New Horizons Mission

Cometary and Asteroid Specific:

Comets and Meteor Showers


Observable Comets

    Orbital elements and ephemerides

Near Earth Objects

    Lots of information about near earth objects.

Near Earth Objects Dynamic Site

    NEODyS provides information and services for all Near Earth Asteroids.

Near Earth Object Map from Armagh Observatory

    Map of the solar system showing all known objects.

Asteroid and Comet Impact Hazards

Specific Planet Missions

Images from all missions:




Mars Global Surveyor Mars Orbiter Camera Image Gallery 

Malin Space Science Systems, Mars Global Surveyor   http:/






Scale Solar System Converter  

This is an Excel spreadsheet that I created to help you to make scale solar systems.  Read about it HERE.

Download it HERE.  (right click and save to your hard drive)

Planet Data Spread Sheet with Charts

This Excel spreadsheet has data about planets and bar charts to compare data. Read about it HERE.

Download it HERE.  (right click and save to your hard drive)

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copyright 1998, 2004 - j.o. rienhardt