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The best vacation spots in the solar system are places within our little corner of the galaxy that are both amazing and hold historical significance. Like any good vacation spot there has to be a reason to pack up the bags and head there in the first place. Whether it’s a distant moon of Uranus or to visit some of the first spacecraft humans sent abroad, there is a large amount of exciting things to see when choosing the best vacation spots in the solar system.
The grand Poobah of them all, if you’re going to visit somewhere in the solar system why not make it the whole reason the system exists in the first place. After all, it is the gravity of the Sun that holds us all together. Though we see the Sun everyday, it is a whole different experience to get up close and personal with our resident ball of gas. Without the interference of Earth’s atmospheric gases we can clearly see the Sun in all of its glory. Just don’t fly too close as the Sun is burning bright at a balmy 5600 degrees Celsius on the surface and 15 million degrees Celsius at it’s core!
Looking to do some mountain climbing while on your vacation? Why not climb the highest known mountain in the solar system, Olympus Mons. Overlooking the landscape of Mars, it is a truly a behemoth. Standing at 21 km high, it would tower above the highest mountain on Earth, Mount Everest. While Everest stands at over 8 km, it is still only one-third of the mountain that Olympus Mons is. A former shield volcano, climbing it would be a great way to get a view of the iron-oxide stained sands of Mars.
Titan is the largest moon of Saturn. What makes Titan one of the best vacation spots in the solar system are the Hydrocarbon lakes and seas that litter it’s surface. Filled with organic materials like methane and ethane, they replace the water cycle on Earth. With an organic fluid cycle of any sort comes a full weather cycle. The presence of mountains and erosion make Titan’s surface much like that of the Earth. You can’t however, lounge on the beach during this vacation, as this whole cycle takes place at -176 degrees Celsius. It would be more of an arctic get away with a little slice of home, weather patterns included.
The Cliffs of Miranda
Standing at five to 10 km high, the Cliffs of Miranda are the highest known in the solar system. You might want to bring a lunch if you are planning on climbing up them! They are part of many odd geographic features on this moon of Uranus. The whole topography of the moon makes it appear as if it broke apart and was then brought back together. It is a cold world, being so distant from the sun but the marvel of the five km cliffs make Miranda a world worth visiting.
Europa’s Underground Seas
One of the best chances to see liquid water outside of the Earth, Europa is one of the 4 Galilean satellites. You would have to dig for them as they are believed to stand at 100 km below the surface of it’s granite hard surface of ice. It would be worth it as there is said to be two to three times the volume of water on Europa as there is on Earth. Listed amongst the best bets to find life in the solar system, you wouldn’t want to miss out on this vacation. Unless, of course, it ends up like the movie Europa Report.
It would be a treat to see the over 400 active volcanoes on Io. The most geologically active world in the solar system, it’s sulfur and sulfur dioxide eruptions would sure be a sight to see. Just make sure to bring a nose plug, as sulfur frost covers Io’s surface while volcanoes emit huge amounts of sulfur gas, which smells akin to rotten eggs. This activity comes from the fact that Jupiter and the other moons of the Galilean system are in a constant tug of war with the little world. It is a brilliant reminder of the beauty of our solar system and the many wonders that are around us.
Skiing might be hard on the icy and rocky surface of Pluto. Why? Well you would be vacationing at between four and seven billion km from the Sun. In comparison, Earth lies a mere 152 million km from the warmth of the Sun. In fact, many of the places on this list are arctic get aways so make sure to pack your jacket! The surface of Pluto has an average temperature of -229 degrees Celsius, making it a truly dark and frozen world. Have fun! Pluto only recently had it’s surface captured by photo with the New Horizons mission in 2015.
The Great Red Spot
Having been recognized as one of the premiere features in the outer solar system, the Great Red Spot has been a raging storm now since we first began closely observing it 186 years ago. Measuring in at three times the size of Earth, it circles the atmosphere of Jupiter. While thinking a storm that massive might ruin a vacation, it is one of the premier features of Jupiter and one of the best vacation spots in the solar system.
Speaking of premiere vacation spots, you can’t make a list such as this without including the wonderful rings of Saturn. They make the otherwise featureless surface of Saturn something to see as they surround the planet. Composed of small chunks of mainly water ice, they circle the planet and form a disc that is 282,000 km thick. This would be a sight seeing adventure as you cannot interact with the rings much unless you plan on skipping across them!
Voyager Space Probes
These are the original space probes that brought us the first close-up views of the other planets in our solar system. Sending back beautiful images of our neighbors, the Voyager mission is among the great feats of space exploration engineering and planning. They are still heading to the outer reaches of the Sun’s gravitational pull, so it would be a long drive. They are flying at 12 billion miles from Earth and still transmitting back data 36 years after they began their flight. If we are talking great vacation spots within the solar system, Voyager 1 may have to be taken off the list. It recently entered the Heliosheath, meaning that it is now in interstellar space and no longer in our solar system.
The only dwarf planet that is within Neptune’s orbit, this asteroid belt object contains almost one-third of the entire mass of the asteroid belt that sits between Mars and Jupiter. Ceres would offer the spherical shape of Earth, with the quiet tranquility of outer space. Composed of ice and rock it is unique as the only dwarf planet within the asteroid belt or on this side of Pluto.
You might have to wait until 2061 but it would be worth it for this frequent visitor of the Sun. Halley’s Comet likes to come around every 76 years and treat earthlings to a cosmic light show. Getting up close and personal with this solar system wonder would be a truly unique experience as it emit jets of water vapor and gas, giving off a marvelous light show. This is caused due to Halley’s approach to the sun melting it’s icy surface.
The first rover the land on Mars, Sojourner is now a piece of history. The little rover gave us a real taste of what the surface of Mars is like. The rover had a limited shelf life and only transmitted data for a little under three months. It was still responsive when contact was lost due to the loss of its base antennae, making it unable to transmit data back to earth. With its solar panels it could still be operating today.
Footprints of the Apollo astronauts
You won’t have to hurry to take this vacation because the footprints of the first men to walk on the Moon are not going anywhere fast. Due to the fact that the Moon has no atmosphere and therefore no weather, erosion is not a factor. That means that the footprints of the Apollo astronauts will be on the moon for at least ten million years! Taking a vacation to observe the tracks from this historic occasion would be a rare treat indeed.
The best vacation spots in the solar system are varied in nature. From massive mountains to spectacular cliffs, some of these features are recognizable though they are grand beyond comprehension. Others like hydrocarbon lakes and sulfur volcanoes would seem foreign to our eyes. One thing is certain and that is there is no lack of beautiful locales to see in this solar system of ours. When you take your solar system vacation take this list, and your vacation clothes, and enjoy the best vacation spots in the solar system.