PISCES Robotic International Space Mining Competition
STEM Aerospace Research Scholars
Research Investigating Dust Explusion Removal Systems
QUESTION: Just how big is our Solar System?
Distances in space are so vast, so mind-boggling, that everyday units of measurements don’t cut it. For assessing distances between, say, planets, a much larger unit is used called the “astronomical unit,” or AU. One AU is the equivalent of the distance between Earth and the Sun, or about 150 million kilometers.
Pluto, which is now considered a dwarf planet, stretches about 39.2 AU from the Sun. But the Solar System doesn’t just extend to the outermost planets (or bodies previously considered to be planets). In fact, its size is determined by the reach of the Sun’s gravitational pull, which extends well beyond the planets.
To give you an idea of just how far away the edge of our Solar System lies, imagine gassing up your car (a flying car, for the sake of argument) and driving it from your home into the outer reaches of space. To reach the end of the Solar System, it would take you 19 million years to cover the distance!!
Ulu hōkū [ulu hō·kū] means “constellation.”
The Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems, or PISCES, is a Hawaii State Government Aerospace Agency located in beautiful Hilo, Hawaii.
The Center is part of the State Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT) and conducts environmentally safe tests on Hawaii’s volcanic terrain to validate advanced space technologies under the jurisdiction of the Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR).