NASA’s Role in Addressing Misconceptions: Scale of Our Solar System and Other Planetary Systems
Our Solar System is no longer unique. As of early September 2013, there were over 940 known planets orbiting other stars. Planetary systems are fairly common, and astronomers are now finding Earth-sized planets in the “Goldilocks Zone,” implying that there may be many habitable planets. The Next Generation Science Standards includes the Disciplinary Core Idea: Earth’s Place in the Universe and Crosscutting Concepts: Patterns; Scale, Portion, and Quantity; and Systems and System Models. While we are learning more about the nature of our Solar System and its planets by studying other planetary systems, our discoveries are heavily biased by the techniques used to detect these systems: primarily radial velocity, transits, and direct observations.