NASA Interactive 3D Map “Solar System View” Updated – Improved Navigation, Graphics, Detailed Travel

By | 08/09/2022

Have you e’er wondered nigh the sizes of planets in the solar arrangement or the distances between them? In this project, you lot will create your own scale model of the solar system by learning how to summate scale distances, the relative sizes of planets, or both. Then, use beads and string, sidewalk chalk, or your own creative option of materials to build a model you can explore – or possibly even wear!

Materials

ane. Learn about sizes and distances in our solar system

Distances in the solar organisation tin be huge! The altitude from the Sun to Neptune is virtually three billion miles (four billion kilometers). Because the distances between planets are so slap-up, astronomers sometimes depict distances in terms of astronomical units (AU). One AU is equal to the boilerplate distance between the Sun and Earth, virtually 93 one thousand thousand miles (150 million kilometers). This allows scientists to describe and calculate distances more efficiently. For example, instead of saying, “Mars is 130 million miles from the Lord’s day,” scientists tin can say, “Mars is i.5 AU from the Dominicus.”

It’s non just the distances between planets that are large. There are as well huge differences in the size of each planet. Considering of this, it can exist difficult or even incommunicable to display both planet size and distance accurately, specially in smaller scale models like an image.

Watch this video about the size of planets and the distances between them to see how far they are from each other, how they differ in size, and how hard it is to display both their size and distance accurately.

Sentry en Español: Seleccione subtítulos en Español bajo el ícono de configuración. | Watch on YouTube

More solar organization size and calibration resources:

  • Solar System Sizes and Distances reference guide – download PDF
  • Solar System Trading Cards
Three panel image with a scale solar system drawn on a concrete walkway with chalk, another with buttons and string, and a third with trading cards on a grassy lawn

two. Decide what kind of model you want to build

Decide if you want your model to bear witness scale planet sizes or the scale distances betwixt planets. Yous can combine a planet-size model of one scale with a distance model of another scale. But if y’all desire size and altitude to exist the same scale, you’ll demand to spread your model beyond at least one-half a mile! See Step half-dozen for instructions on building a combined size-and-distance model.


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Measuring tape extends on a concrete walkway from an outline of the sun drawn with chalk

3. Choose where your model solar system will go

Selection a place to set your solar organisation model. This could be across a sleeping accommodation wall, along the flooring of a hallway or big room, outside in a yard, or downward a sidewalk.

Keep your option in mind as y’all summate the size of planets and distances between them in the next steps. You’ll need to have plenty materials, and your model volition accept to fit within the place you lot cull.

Instructions for building a model out of beads and string, sidewalk chalk, or yard markers are included below, but you can use whatever materials or any infinite you like!


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A person holds a gold string across yellow measuring tape

iv. Summate scale distances

If you lot’re making a calibration-distance model, proceed reading for two different methods of calculating scale distances. For a scale-size model, skip to Step 5.

Calculate manually:

  1. Download the altitude calculation chart (DOCX).
  2. Multiply the scale factor on the nautical chart by the distance to each planet in astronomical units (AU). Note: When using the suggested x centimeters per i AU, you’ll need nearly 10 feet between the Sun and Neptune. If you want your model to bridge a longer or shorter altitude, you tin can change the scale value appropriately.

Calculate using a spreadsheet:

  1. Download the Calibration Distance spreadsheet (XLSX or CSV).
  2. Create a formula in your spreadsheet that will calculate the distance from the Sunday to each planet (in centimeters) in your model. The formula should multiply the AU value past the number of centimeters yous desire each AU to represent, your scale value.
  3. A spreadsheet multiplication formula follows this format: =B3*x, where B3 is the cell with a planet’s AU distance and 10 is the scale value. B refers to the cell column and 3 refers to the cell row.

Try different scale values to make your scale model span a shorter or longer altitude, depending on where you want to place it.

Once you’ve done your calculations, go to Steps viii-10 for a few different ideas for creating and displaying your model. You can as well come with your own creative brandish using your choice of materials.


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See "About the image" below for image description

5. Summate scale planet sizes

If you’re making a scale-size model, keep reading for ii different methods of calculating the scale sizes of the planets. For a scale-distance model, come across Step four higher up.

Calculate manually:

  1. Download the size calculation nautical chart (DOCX).
  2. Choose the size (diameter) you want World to be in your model (for example 1 cm).
  3. For each planet, multiply the size y’all chose for Earth by the multiplier value on the chart. The multiplier is a planet’due south size compared with Globe. This will give you the scale size of each planet.

Summate using a spreadsheet:

  1. Download the Scale Size Calculator spreadsheet (XLSX or CSV).
  2. Choose the size (diameter) you want World to be in your model (for example 10 cm).
  3. Create a formula in your spreadsheet that will summate the diameter of (distance across) each planet in centimeters. The formula should multiply the size you chose for Earth by the multiplier value for each planet. The multiplier is a planet’s size compared with Earth.
  4. A spreadsheet multiplication formula follows this format: =B3*10, where B3 is the cell with a planet’s multiplier (its size compared to Globe) and 10 is the size you chose for Globe. B refers to the cell column and 3 refers to the cell row.

Endeavor different values for Earth to make your scale planets larger or smaller depending on the materials y’all take available to represent the size of each planet.

One time you’ve done your calculations, get to Step 9 to find out how to make a sidewalk chalk scale model. Yous can also come up with your own creative brandish using your choice of materials.


Well-nigh the image:
This artist’s rendering (available equally a downloadable poster) shows the planets of our solar system lined up every bit if they were transiting the Lord’s day. Although such a view would not be possible in reality, the graphic is intended to prove the accurate scale of the planets, relative to each other and the Sun. › Full epitome and caption

A satellite image of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory overlaid with circles of different colors and sizes representing the orbits of planets in a scale size and distance model of the solar system

half dozen. Calculate combined scale distance and planet size

If you are interested in a more than authentic way to represent the solar arrangement and have a lot of space (at least half a mile!) to work with, try making a model of the solar system that displays distance and planet size at the same scale. Otherwise, skip this step.

Steps:

  1. Download the Scale Size and Distance Spreadsheet (XLSX or CSV) or the Solar System Sizes and Distances reference guide if computing manually.
  2. Make up one’s mind on the diameter of Earth in your scale model. Keep in listen that a 1-cm Earth means the scale altitude from the Sun to Neptune is about two miles. Consider making your scale Earth just a few millimeters beyond. To calculate the scale solar system, you’ll demand to piece of work with proportions and ratios, as shown in this equation.

    Scale Diameter / Scale Distance = Actual Diameter / Actual Distance

    Calibration Bore / Calibration Distance = Actual Diameter / Actual Altitude | + Expand image

  3. Using the bodily bore of and distance to a planet, along with your calibration bore of Earth, you can rearrange the equation to discover the unknown sizes and distances. To start, use the scale diameter you chose for World, and rearrange the equation as shown below to solve for the unknown scale distance from World to the Dominicus. You tin can calculate this by paw or create a spreadsheet function that calculates this value.

    Scale Diameter (Actual Distance) / Actual Diameter = Scale Distance

    Scale Diameter (Actual Distance) / Actual Diameter = Scale Altitude | + Expand image

    Spreadsheet screengrab of Step 6 showing the formula =(B5*E5)/D5 being added.

    In this case, the spreadsheet office divides the product of World’southward scale diameter (B5) and actual distance from the Lord’s day (E5) by World’s actual bore (D5) using =(B5*E5)/D5 to find the scale distance from Earth to the lord’s day. | + Expand image

  4. To calculate the scale diameter of the other planets, you need to rearrange proportional ratios and write equations similar to what you lot did in the previous stride using the scale Earth bore in your equation. By rearranging the equation beneath, y’all tin calculate by hand or create a formula in the spreadsheet to find both scale diameter and scale distance for the remaining planets. Note: If you change the calibration diameter of Earth in the spreadsheet, it will cause the functions to recalculate the scale values for the other planets as well.

    Scale Planet Diameter / Scale Earth Diameter = Actual Planet Diameter / Actual Earth Diameter

    Scale Planet Diameter / Scale Earth Diameter = Actual Planet Bore / Actual Earth Diameter | + Expand image

    Spreadsheet screengrab of Step 7 showing the formula =(B5*D6)/D5 being added.

    In this example, the product of the scale diameter of Globe (B5) and the bodily diameter of Mars (D6) is divided by the actual diameter of World (D5) using =(B5*D6)/D5 to find the scale diameter of Mars. | + Expand epitome

  5. Adjacent, use the scale Earth diameter and proportional ratios to detect the scale distances to the other planets by rearranging the equation below.

    Scale Planet Distance / Scale Earth Diameter = Actual Planet Distance / Actual Earth Diameter

    Scale Planet Altitude / Scale Earth Diameter = Bodily Planet Distance / Bodily World Diameter | + Expand image

    Spreadsheet screengrab of Step 8 showing the formula =(B5*E6)/D5 being added

    In this example, the spreadsheet function calculates the production of the scale diameter of Earth (B5) and the actual distance to Mars (E6) divided by the bodily diameter of Earth (D5) using =(B5*E6)/D5. | + Aggrandize image

  6. Echo the previous steps for the remaining planets.
  7. Use a ruler, compass, string, protractor, or another tool to depict circles of advisable sizes for each planet. You lot can colour the circles to resemble the planets’ appearances.
  8. Using online mapping software, such every bit Google or Bing maps, right-click on the location that represents the Dominicus (eastward.g., your dwelling) and click “measure distance” to identify where the scale planets should go. Depending on the calculated size of the calibration model, yous may want to check with neighbors and friends to run across if they can host the more than distant planets in your scale model.

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7. Create and display your model

Now it’s time to create your model! At that place are lots of ways y’all can create and display your scale solar organisation. With your measurements calculated, cull one of the options below, or come up with your own.

An animated image looking down as a person walks through a sidewalk chalk model of the solar system

A person holds with buttons of different sizes and colors tied to it across yellow measuring tape

8. Brand a Solar System on a String (calibration distance model)

Tie colored beads onto a string to make a scale model of the distances between planets in the solar system. Yous can wear your model or even display it on a wall.

Materials:

  • Cord (enough to span the altitude to Neptune, plus an extra thirty cm)
  • Beads, washers, or some other object to mark the distance to each planet on the string
  • Calculated distances from Step iv

Steps:

  1. Measure and cut a piece of cord about 30 cm longer than the distance you calculated from the Sun to Neptune.
  2. Tie a bead representing the Sun to 1 stop of the string using a double knot. If y’all don’t have beads, you can tie metal washers to the cord, attach planet cutouts or trading cards, or simply employ tape to marking the location of the Dominicus.
  3. Using the distances (in centimeters) that you calculated, measure out the distance from the Sun on the string to each planet and tie a colored bead in identify using a double knot. If you can, choose beads that are the colors of the planets and the Sun.
  4. Once you have attached all your beads or marked your planets on the cord in some fashion, straighten out the string to see your scale solar organization!

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The Sun and planets drawn in chalk extend up a concrete walkway

nine. Solar System on the Sidewalk (scale distance and/or size model)

Use chalk to make a walkable scale model of the distances betwixt planets and/or the sizes of planets in the solar organisation. Invite your family and friends to take a walk through your calibration model.

Materials:

  • Sidewalk chalk
  • Calculated distances from Step 4 or distances and sizes from Pace 6

Steps:

  1. Use sidewalk chalk to draw the Sun on the ground.
  2. Measure the distance you lot calculated to each planet and depict them at their scale distances.
  3. If you calculated the planet sizes compared with each other, mensurate those sizes every bit yous draw them, giving your planets the correct diameter.
  4. You lot can draw your planets all forth a unmarried straight line from the Sun, but if you have enough space, consider cartoon them at their correct altitude in different spots in orbit around the Sun.

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A man kneels down in a grassy field holding a card with a picture of Mars on it.

10. Solar Arrangement in the One thousand (scale altitude model)

Use altitude markers like cones or popsicle sticks in your g or an open up area to create a scale model of the distances between planets in the solar system.

Materials:

  • Popsicle sticks, cones, or other objects to marker distances
  • Calculated distances from Step 4

Steps:

  1. Use distance markers like cones, ground stakes, or popsicle sticks to marker the locations of the planets at the distances you calculated.
  2. Attach drawings or cutouts of the planets to their markers.

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Source: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/edu/learn/project/make-a-scale-solar-system/