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Thursday, 9 November, 2000, 16:50 GMT
Wow, look at that!
New Solar System Nasa
The New Solar System: This is where we live
By BBC News Online science editor Dr David Whitehouse

A montage of all the planets and moons visited by spaceprobes has been produced to celebrate the exploration of space.

In a physically impossible line-up, which is also not to scale, eight planets and four large moons of Jupiter are set against a false-colour view of the Rosette Nebula.

In the foreground is an image of the lunar crater Copernicus, as seen from a lunar orbiter spacecraft.

Most of the images in this montage were obtained by the American space agency Nasa's planetary missions, which have dramatically changed our understanding of the Solar System in the past 30 years.

Terrestrial planets

The picture is available to download in a range of formats and sizes from a Nasa website - click here.

Mighty cloud-covered Jupiter, with its Great Red Spot storm system to the lower centre of its disc, is positioned centre stage. It has been visited by five spaceprobes with another, Cassini, fast approaching it.

Next to the gas giant are its four major moons, with Io, the most volcanically active world in the Solar System, just off to the right.

Blue and white Earth along with red Mars and cloudy Venus form a trio on the left of the montage.

Distant Pluto

Ringed Saturn is small alongside light blue Uranus. Neptune is to the right and a much deeper blue. Moon-like Mercury, which has only ever been visited by one probe, is top-right

Only one planet has yet to be visited by a spaceprobe: distant Pluto. Nasa has just cancelled a proposed mission to our Solar System's most distant outpost.

The Rosette Nebula, or NGC 2237, is 3,000 light years from Earth and is visible in the constellation of Monoceros. The light emitted from the nebula results from the presence of hydrogen (red), oxygen (green) and sulphur (blue).

Jim Klemaszewski, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University, US, compiled the montage.

Art meets science

Jim works on the imaging team of Nasa's Galileo mission to Jupiter and its moons. He is also heavily involved in science education.

"I wanted to produce a picture showing Solar System objects in a way that is artistic and attractive," he told BBC News Online. "I tell my students that you don't have to be a scientist to be interested in the planets (or any scientific study, for that matter).

"Someone with artistic ability may see beauty that scientists often overlook in the search for facts and knowledge. This is a way of demonstrating that the sciences and the arts can cross disciplines and be used synergistically.

"The result is stunning and the response has been both astounding and humbling."

Resette Nebula credit: T A Rector, B Wolpa, M Hanna, KPNO 0.9-m Mosaic, AURA/NOAO/NSF

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See also:

10 Oct 00 | Sci/Tech
...and here it is in colour
07 Mar 00 | Sci/Tech
Jupiter's moons in focus
23 Jun 00 | Sci/Tech
Water may flow on Mars
22 Jun 00 | Sci/Tech
Mars in pictures
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