Q:

What separates the inner planets from the outer planets?

A:

Quick Answer

In the universe, an asteroid belt physically separates and distinguishes the inner planets from the outer planets. This asteroid belt appears just after Mars and right before Jupiter. Mars bears the distinction of farthest inner planet from the sun while Jupiter takes recognition as the closest outer planet.

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Full Answer

In the solar system, the inner planets include Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. These planets, in that order, span the distance from closest to furthest from the sun. The four inner planets are classified as terrestrial planets, which means their surfaces were formed from solid substances. Although classified as terrestrial, Earth is the only inner planet capable of supporting vast amounts of life.

The other planets contain some hospitable features, such as water and ice, but lack the climactic conditions suitable for growth. The cores and surfaces of the inner planets were formed primarily from metals and elements. Heavy metals of iron and nickel form the many layers of most inner planets. In contrast to the inner planets, the outer planets contain warmer atmospheres as they were formed from gases and liquids. These planets feature rings and many moons. Like the inner planets, outer planets vary in size. Jupiter, also the closest to the sun, is the largest.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What are the similarities between the inner and outer planets?

    A:

    The inner and outer planets all follow an elliptical orbit, share the same orbital plane, are spherical and contain some of the same elements. Besides those attributes, each planet is very different.

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  • Q:

    What do the outer planets have in common?

    A:

    The characteristics that the outer planets have in common include their large size and their large number of moons when compared with the inner, or terrestrial, planets. They also lack solid surfaces, and as far as astronomers know, none are capable of supporting life. For example: Jupiter and Saturn are "gas giants" with atmospheres made up largely of hydrogen and helium, while Neptune and Uranus are called "ice giants" because their atmospheres also contain ammonia, methane and water ices.

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  • Q:

    What are the names of the outer planets?

    A:

    The names of the outer planets are Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Jupiter is the largest planet in the Solar System. All four planets are considered gas giants, and Uranus and Neptune are considered by some astronomers to be ice giants as well.

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  • Q:

    What are characteristics of inner planets and outer planets?

    A:

    The inner planets of the solar system are small, rocky worlds that have very few moons. The outer planets are composed primarily of gases and are much larger than the inner planets. All four of the outer planets have a system of rings and are orbited by multiple moons.

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