For many thousands of years, humanity, with a few exceptions, did not recognize or understand the concept of the Solar System. Most people up to the Late Middle Ages–Renaissance believed Earth to be stationary at the centre of the universe and categorically different from the divine or ethereal objects that moved through the sky. Although the Greek philosopher Aristarchus of Samos had speculated on a heliocentric reordering of the cosmos, Nicolaus Copernicus was the
first to develop a mathematically predictive heliocentric system. In the 17th century, Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, and Isaac Newton developed an understanding of physics that led to the gradual acceptance of the idea that Earth moves around the Sun and that the planets are governed by the same physical laws that governed Earth. The invention of the telescope led to the discovery of further planets and moons. Improvements in the telescope and the use of unmanned spacecraft have enabled the investigation of geological phenomena, such as mountains, craters, seasonal meteorological phenomena, such as clouds, dust storms and ice caps on the other planets.
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