The Coldest, Snowiest, Iciest Places In Our Solar System

As you battle the blizzard, just be happy you don't live on Pluto

Mars Polar Ice Caps

When humans begin colonizing Mars someday, Santa Claus can easily set up shop on our red next-door neighbor. Mars has two polar ice caps—a northern and southern one—that grow and shrink depending on the season. During the wintertime, the poles get absolutely no sun, and the resulting drop in temperature freezes both water into ice and carbon dioxide into “dry ice.” Kris Kringle will be happy to know that the north polar cap is the larger of the two poles, reaching about 685 miles wide during its winter season. Temperature: -238 degrees Fahrenheit


For hardcore skiers in need of new terrain to conquer, Saturn’s sixth largest moon, Enceladus, may be the ideal place for hitting the interplanetary slopes. Covered in miles of ice, Enceladus is home to numerous geysers, which jettison ice particles into the air above the moon’s surface. The result is something like snowfall as the ice particles fall back to the ground, coating Enceladus in extremely fine ice crystals. Paul Schenk of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston notes the “snow” would make for great skiing conditions! The only problem? There’s just not enough of it built up on the surface yet. Give it a couple tens of millions of years or so, and the slopes will be piled high. Temperature: -330 degrees Fahrenheit


Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is known for its active range of volcanoes. But rather than spew lava, these geologic features burp out icy water and methane. They’re called cryovolcanoes, and researchers theorize that these “ice volcanoes” are to blame for methane in Titan’s atmosphere. Methane clouds on Titan, like the one pictured above, resemble the rain and snow clouds found on Earth. They form through cycles of evaporation and condensation. And just like Earth clouds, they precipitate—except with methane instead of water. Hooray for methane snow days! Temperature: -291 degrees Fahrenheit


Jupiter’s moon Europa is thought to be one giant ocean covered in any icy red-and-white shell. At its center, Europa is likely made of iron with a rocky mantle, but above the rock lies a vast salt-water ocean that’s possibly 10 times as deep as Earth’s oceans and potentially home to extraterrestrial life. Just like an icy lake on Earth, a frozen icy surface shields the oceans from the cold, allowing it to remain in liquid form. Yet you wouldn’t need to worry about falling through this ice sheet. Though scientists haven’t come to a consensus on the thickness of Europa’s icy shell, experts estimate it could be anywhere from a few miles to 62 miles deep. It would be perfect for ice skating, if only it weren’t so cold. Temperature: Between -256 and -364 degrees Fahrenheit


The largest of Neptune’s 13 moons, Triton is one of the coldest objects in our solar system. Also home to ice volcanoes, the moon’s surface belches out a mixture of liquid nitrogen, methane, and dust, all of which freeze immediately in the air. The flakes then snow back down to Triton’s surface, which mostly consists of frozen nitrogen. An almost non-existent atmosphere doesn’t help to curb the freezing temperatures. Temperature: -391 degrees Fahrenheit


Although Neptune, the farthest planet from the sun, is pretty damn cold (-360 degrees Fahrenheit), Uranus takes the prize for being our solar system’s coldest planet. The lowest temperature ever recorded on Uranus was -371 degrees Fahrenheit. Scientists aren’t exactly sure why Uranus, which is more than a billion miles closer to our star than Neptune, boasts colder temperatures, but some experts believe the planet’s odd orientation or energetic atmosphere are to blame for the loss of heat.


At a whopping 3.6 billion miles from the sun, Pluto is one of the coldest large bodies in the solar system. The tiny planet experiences a wide range of cold temperatures due to its elliptical orbit, fluctuating between -375 and -400 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it lost its title of “Coldest Planet” when it was reclassified as a dwarf planet in 2006.

The Moon

Ironically, the coldest known place in our solar system is much closer to home than you might think. Beating out even Pluto, the Moon is home to the coldest constant temperature: -400 degrees Fahrenheit. In 2009, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter found that temperatures in some of the Moon’s craters dip incredibly low, because the craters’ large rims block sunlight from reaching their centers. It definitely gets cold there in that shadow.