10 Stellar Space Facts for National Space Day

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Helix Nebula
Photo credit: NASA.
Celebrated the first Friday in May, National Space Day 2016 is May 6. From satellites and supernovas to black holes and asteroid belts, we’re wild about what lies beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. Naturally, Thinkery is full of outer space spirit, and we’re celebrating with 10 astronomically accurate facts for you to share with your family and friends.
  1. The tallest mountain in the solar system is actually on an asteroid. Rheasilvia, believed to be an impact crater, makes up 90 percent of Vesta’s surface. It is 14.2 miles tall.
  2. Since there is no atmosphere for sound waves to travel through, outer space is completely silent.
  3. Due to its slow rotation, a day on Venus lasts longer than an entire year. The planet takes 243 Earth days to rotate on its axis, but only 225 Earth days to orbit the sun.
1.3 million Earths could fit inside the sun.
Photo credit: NASA.
  1. 1.3 million Earths could fit inside the sun—and our sun is only considered to be an average-sized star.
  2. And speaking of the sun, our star makes up 99.8 percent of the solar system’s mass.
  3. If you placed Saturn in water, the planet would float. That is, of course, if you found a body of water that was large enough.
  4. What does space smell like? According to astronauts, outer space’s cosmic scent is a mixture of melted metal, spent gunpowder, burnt charcoal and seared steak.
  5. 4,800 new stars are born every second. When you take into account the number of stars dying daily, there are about 275 million new stars in the observable universe every single day.
Mars gets its reddish hue from iron oxide, or rust.
Photo credit: NASA.
  1. Why is Mars red? Its surface is covered with iron oxide, or rust.
  2. If you could fly a plane to Pluto, the trip would take more than 800 years. Buckle up—you’re in for a long ride!
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