SCIENCE

Guinness space: what's incredible about our solar system

Where do you think is the highest mountain in our Solar System? And did you know that huge lakes also exist on other planets, albeit not of normal water as we understand it? This and much more hides the space closest to us.

In its latest edition, the Guinness World Record 2023 has brought together some of the most incredible records and facts you can think of, including majestic natural phenomena, huge asteroids, unimaginable storms and much more. 

We take you on a discovery of the 10 most fascinating records in our Solar System. Some of these are almost science fiction, trust us.

Flickr.com/Wikipedia.org
Guinness space: what's incredible about our solar system
Where do you think is the highest mountain in our Solar System? And did you know that huge lakes also exist on other planets, albeit not of normal water as we understand it? This and much more hides the space closest to us. In its latest edition, the Guinness World Record 2023 has brought together some of the most incredible records and facts you can think of, including majestic natural phenomena, huge asteroids, unimaginable storms and much more.  We take you on a discovery of the 10 most fascinating records in our Solar System. Some of these are almost science fiction, trust us.
Getty Images
The most powerful sandstorms
According to the Guinness World Record 2023 book, irregular sandstorms chase each other on the surface of Mars, covering the entire planet. They can also last for several months. Obviously, the presence of these storms is one of the biggest technological challenges facing researchers designing missions to the red planet.
Di NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Alex Parker
The largest physical object in the Kuiper belt (Image of Pluto taken by New Horizons on 14 July 2015, from a distance of 22,025 miles (35,445 kilometres)
The Kuiper belt is that region of space that lies beyond the orbit of Neptune. Pluto was once considered a planet in its own right, but researchers have since downgraded it to a dwarf planet. According to observations by the New Horizons probe during its close flyover in 2015, it has a diameter of 2376 km, making it the largest object, but not the one with the largest mass. This record belongs to Eris, measuring 1.66 x 10^19 tonnes.
Di Voyager 2 - http://www.ciclops.org/view/3163/Saturn-taken-from-Voyager-2, Pubblico dominio, https
The largest ring system in the Solar System. (This colour image was assembled from Voyager 2 images of Saturn obtained on 4 August 1981 from a distance of 21 million kilometres (13 million miles) on the probe's approach trajectory)
Not surprisingly, Saturn's rings form the largest ring system in the Solar System. These are about 7000 km high above the planet's equator, with a distance of up to 15 million km (the Phoebe ring being the furthest). The total mass of these ice and dust formations is 1.54x10^16 tonnes.
By NASA/ESA/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/M.H. Wong and I. de Pater (UC Berkeley) et al.Acknowledgments: M. Zaman
The largest anticyclone. (This image of Jupiter in visible light was created from data acquired on 11 January 2017 with the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3)
As well as being the largest, it is also the most famous. We are talking about the Great Red Spot on the surface of Jupiter in the southern hemisphere. Although it is shrinking, this anticyclone is still larger than planet Earth, and has lasted for about 350 years. An observation of it in 1979 measured a diameter of 25,000 km, while in 2021 it was 'only' 14,893 km.
Andrea Luck - Flickr.com
The highest mountain in the Solar System
Back to Mars, which also deserves another record, that of the highest mountain in the Solar System. This is Olympus Mons, 21,287 km high above the planet's reference level. Specifically, it is a volcano with a crater 624 km in diameter, to understand the size of France, whose height is two and a half times that of Everest, the highest mountain on Earth.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center - Flickr.com
The first interstellar asteroid discovered
Beautiful discovery by researchers in 2017, who spotted the first interstellar object in our Solar System. It is Omuamua, a 400-metre long comet born in another System. It passed Neptune's orbit in 2022, but will remain 'in our neck of the woods' for the next 20,000 years.
Di ESO/LAM - Source: https://www.eso.org/public/usa/blog/true-nature-of-asteroids/?langDirect image
The largest M-type asteroid (16 Psyche imaged by the Very Large Telescope in SPHERE adaptive optics imager)
Let us first clarify what an M-type asteroid is, i.e. an asteroid composed almost exclusively of metals, iron and nickel to be precise. They are the brightest, with an albedo ranging from 0.1 to 0.18. 16 Psyche has an average diameter of 226 km and an estimated mass of 2.28x10^16 tonnes. It orbits between the Sun, Mars and Jupiter.
Di NASA / JPL-Caltech / USGS - http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA09102, Pubblico dominio,
The largest extraterrestrial lakes (probe photo Cassini)
Do lakes exist outside of Earth? Evidently yes, and the largest are found on Saturn's largest moon, Titan. There are 75 lakes (photographed thanks to the Cassini probe) up to 110 km in diameter. These lakes, however, do not consist of liquid water, but of a combination of liquid methane and ethane.
Di NASA/Goddard Space Flight CenterScientific Visualization Studio - cropped and somewhat compressed
The deepest crater in the Solar System (A virtual view of the Moon showing data from Clementine. This image shows the far side of the Moon)
This title goes to a place on the Moon, namely the Polo-South Aitken Basin, which lies on the hidden face of our satellite. This crater has a diameter of 2500 km, and an average depth of 12 km. The area we are talking about is visible in the photo, it is the dark area at the bottom.
By NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI - http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2011-203, Public Domain, htt
The longest lightning storm
Thanks to observations from the Cassini orbit, a lightning storm was observed on Saturn that lasted for 333 days, from 14 January to 13 December 2019. These storms develop within periodic disturbances on the planet called Great White Spots.
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19/04/2024
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