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8 of the Most Extreme Places in the Solar System [Slide Show]

A new book highlights the most unique locations in the solar system, some of which are surprisingly close to home

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PERFECT FIT:

A total solar eclipse is a rare event on Earth, but it is even rarer in the context of the solar system at large. Only at Earth does the interplay between the size, shape and distance of the moon and sun allow one body (the moon) to blot out the other (the sun) with virtually no overlap .....[ More ]

MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN:

Mount Everest may be the tallest mountain—and the most famous ascent—on Earth, but at 8,850 meters it is not nearly the highest peak in the solar system. That honor goes to Mars's Olympus Mons, a volcano more than 600 kilometers in diameter (about the size of Arizona) and, standing 27 kilometers at its peak, roughly three times as tall as Everest.....[ More ]

GAS UP:

Need a pit stop? Titan is not in the most convenient location, out in orbit around Saturn, but it's got abundant hydrocarbon fuels for the taking, earning the Saturnian moon the designation "best fuel depot" from Baker and Ratcliff.....[ More ]

WHAT'S THAT SMELL?:

Io earns the designation "stinkiest place in the solar system" in Baker and Ratcliff's book. Jupiter's third-largest moon would smell to us of rotten eggs, thanks to its active—and highly sulfurous—volcanoes.....[ More ]

SPIN OFF:

Hyperion, one of Saturn's many moons, is an odd-shaped, pockmarked object with a density so low—about half that of water—that it must be incredibly porous, essentially a 400-kilometer-long sponge.....[ More ]

SHRINKY DINK:

Mercury, the innermost planet, is covered by geologic landforms known as thrust scarps, a sort of stair-step feature that is produced by compression. A curving scarp is visible in the center of the photograph above.....[ More ]

DEVILISHLY POWERFUL:

Martian dust devils earn the title of "the most extreme vacuum cleaners in the solar system" in David Baker and Todd Ratcliff's new book, The 50 Most Extreme Places in Our Solar System . Thanks to low pressure and surface gravity on Mars, the dusty vortices tower over terrestrial dust devils and tornadoes—they can reach the height of Mount Everest with winds in excess of 300 kilometers per hour, according to Baker and Ratcliff.....[ More ]

RETRO ACTIVE:

All the planets in the solar system orbit in the same direction that the sun rotates—counterclockwise, to an observer over Earth's northern hemisphere. Likewise, all the large moons in the solar system follow prograde orbits around their respective host planets, hewing to the direction of planetary rotation, with one exception: Triton.....[ More ]

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