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The Semimajor Axis Of Planets In Our Solar System

Last updated: Thursday, June 08, 2023
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The semimajor axis, in the context of planets, is a fundamental parameter that describes the size and shape of a planet's orbit around the Sun. It represents half the length of the major axis of the elliptical orbit and is a measure of the average distance between the planet and the Sun.

The semimajor axis is a crucial value in understanding a planet's orbital characteristics. It determines the scale and extent of the planet's elliptical path, providing information about its average distance from the Sun. The semimajor axis is typically measured in astronomical units (AU), where 1 AU is the average distance between Earth and the Sun, approximately 149.6 million kilometers (93 million miles).

The value of the semimajor axis influences the planet's orbital period, or the time it takes for the planet to complete one revolution around the Sun. According to Kepler's laws of planetary motion, planets with larger semimajor axes have longer orbital periods, while those with smaller semimajor axes have shorter orbital periods. This relationship allows scientists to predict the orbital periods of planets based on their semimajor axes.

For example, Earth's semimajor axis is approximately 1 AU, which corresponds to an average distance of about 149.6 million kilometers (93 million miles) from the Sun. Mars, on the other hand, has a semimajor axis of around 1.52 AU, indicating that its average distance from the Sun is approximately 227.9 million kilometers (141.6 million miles).

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Click On The Pictures To See The 3D Models From NASA
Name \(10^6\)km Ratio To Earth Value
Moon 0.3844 0.0026
Mercury 57.909 0.3871
Venus 108.21 0.72334
Earth 149.598 1
Mars 227.956 1.5238
Jupiter 778.479 5.2038
Saturn 1432.041 9.5726
Uranus 2867.043 19.1650
Neptune 4514.953 30.1806
Pluto 5869.656 39.2362
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Source: NASA

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