Order and disorder

The most obvious feature of the solar system is that the planets constitute an orderly system. All of them move about the Sun in the same direction in nearly circular orbits and in nearly the same plane. The spacing between them increases with distance in an orderly way, and most planets rotate in the same direction as they revolve.

While the system of main planets and their satellites is characterised by order, that of the comets and meteoroids, and objects in the Kuiper belt, scattered disc and Oort cloud are often characterised by disorder - these objects move in elongated, tilted orbits.

Astronomers are attempting to understand this order and disorder by sending space probes to explore the solar system further. Unravelling the origin and history of the solar system provides one of the great adventures of science.

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