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Teaching Geoscience with Visualizations: Using Images, Animations, and Models Effectively
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Cutting Edge > Visualization > Visualization Collections > Planetary Visualizations

Planetary Visualizations

Compiled by John McDaris of SERC.
This collection compiles visualizations of the 8 planets in the solar system as well as several other bodies such as asteroids and dwarf planets. Many of the sources contain information on all of the planets and other objects, so care has been taken to highlight as many different sources as possible.

Click here to browse the complete set of Visualization Collections.


Mercury transit of the Sun (more info) This page from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center shows still images and movies of the planet Mercury passing in front of the Sun.
Welcome to the Planets: Mercury (more info) This page from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory has some really interesting images of the surface of Mercury.
Views of the Solar System: Mercury (more info) This fact sheet about Mercury has a number of images of different parts of Mercury.
Geology of Mercury (more info) This page from the USGS's Solar System Geology site has visualizations of what is known about the geology of Mercury along with links to the geologic data and mapping details.


Venus: the Veiled Planet (more info) This page from Whispers of the Cosmos contains images of several different ways of viewing the atmosphere and surface of this shrouded planet.
USGS Astrogeology: Map-a-Planet (more info) images of planets
Observing the 2004 Transit of Venus (more info) This page present a large number of links and visuals of the 2004 transit of Venus across the Sun's disk. There are also links to educational resources about the topic.
Venusian Geologic Maps (more info) This page is a part of the website for the Planetary Process Laboratory of Dr. Vicki Hansen at the University of Minnesota - Duluth. It is an index to the work they are doing to create geologic maps of the surface of Venus. Completed works can be viewed and downloaded as PDFs.


Earthrise: Apollo 8 Image (more info) This is one of the most famous images of Earth ever taken by NASA. The view is of the rising earth taken by Apollo 8 astronauts just after they had entered orbit around the moon.


Image of Mars

Check out the Mars Exploration and Geology visualization collection. This collection was developed along with a workshop titled Discoveries from Mars: Using a Planetary Perspective to Enhance Undergraduate Geoscience Courses


Jupiter (more info) This fact sheet about Jupiter from the Sol Company has a number of images and animations about the planet and some of its moons.
Jupiters Ring System (more info) The page in NASA's Planetary Rings Node presents images and animations of the rings system around Jupiter. There are also links to other sources of information on these rings.
NSSDC Photo Gallery: Jupiter (more info) This NASA Space Science Data Center page provides access to a wide array of Jupiter images. Images include high resolution shots of the Great Red Spot, individual moons and montages of the whole Jovian system.
Comet Shoemaker-Levy Animations (more info) This page from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory compiles a large number of animations of the impact of the fragmented Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet with Jupiter in 1995.


Cassini-Huygens Homepage (more info) This is the homepage for NASA's Cassini-Huygens Mission to Saturn and Titan. A vast number of raw and analyzed images are available on this site as well as updates on the mission and upcoming events.
Space.com: Saturn (more info) This Space.com page is an index for a number of articles about Saturn as well as for a good collection of images of the planet.
Eerie Sounds of Saturns Radio Emissions (more info) This "visualization" from the University of Iowa presents the radio frequency emissions from Saturn picked up by the Cassini-Huygens probe. The frequencies have been translated into sound humans can hear.
Cassini-Huygens: Landing on Titan (more info) This Euaropean Space Agency page provides access to several flash animations of the Huygens Probe's descent through Titan's atmosphere. There are also static images from the probe as well as explanatory information about the mission.


Seasonal Changes on Uranus (more info) his animation is a time-lapse video of Hubble Telescope images of Uranus spanning from 1994 to 1998. The scene that it presents contradicts the planet's typically boring portrayal as the blandest of the outer planets.
Grand Tour of the Outer Planets: Uranus (more info) This page from the University of California - Riverside contains a lot of general information about Uranus as well as images and animations of the planet and its system of rings and moons.
Exploring the Planets - Uranus Image Index ( This site may be offline. ) This gallery provides access to all the imagery of Uranus contained in the Exploring the Planets Online Exhibition. There are images of Uranus, its rings, and several of its moons.


Nineplanets: Neptune (more info) This fact sheet from Nineplanets.org has a number of visuals of Neptune. Almost all images of this planet come from the flyby of Voyager 2 in 1989 although there are some newer images from the Hubble Space Telescope.
Triton (more info) This page from Views of the Solar System presents a large number of visualizations of Neptune's largest moon, Triton.

Other Parts of the Solar System

Kuiper Belt

Pluto-Charon (more info) This page from Views of the Solar System provides access to images and animations of the binary dwarf planet composed of Pluto and Charon. Did you know that the Hubble Space Telescope discovered two additional moons in the Pluto-Charon system?
Where is New Horizons (more info) NASA launched its New Horizons spacecraft mission on January 19, 2006. The purpose of the mission is to provide the first fly-by of the Pluto-Charon system and the first up-close exploration of the area at the edge of the solar system called the Kuyper Belt. This mission webpage provides daily updates about the location of the vehicle with graphics that show its position in relation to the planets and its planned course through the solar system from several perspectives.
Sedna (2003 VB12) (more info) This page presents the available telescopic images and artist conceptions of this Kuyper Belt Object. The page was produced by Michael Brown at the California Institute of Technology and Chad Trujillo at the Gemini Observatory who discovered it
Kuiper Belt (more info) This Wikipedia page talks about what we know of the Kuyper Belt and its constituents.

Asteroid Belt

Near Earth Objects Program: Orbit Diagrams (more info) This page provides access to diagrams of the orbits of a very large number of objects in the asteroid belt as well as comets that cross Earth's orbit. The collection is searchable by object name or designation and users can also browse through an extensive list of potentially hazardous asteroids.
Asteroid Belt (more info) This Wikipedia page discusses the Asteroid Belt as a whole and has graphics of the accepted extent of this region of the solar system. There are also links to other related articles.

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