The Earth

EARTH PLANET PROFILE

Equatorial Diameter:          12,756 km

Polar Diameter:                   12,714 km

Mass:                                      5.97 × 10^24 kg (5,970,000,000,000,000,000,000,000)                            

Moons:                                  1

Orbit Distance:                     149,598,262 km (1 AU)

Orbit Period:                        365.24 days

Surface Temperature:        -88 to 58°C

Facts about the Earth

  • The Earth’s rotation is gradually slowing.
    This deceleration is happening almost imperceptibly, at approximately 17 milliseconds per hundred years, although the rate at which it occurs is not perfectly uniform. This has the effect of lengthening our days, but it happens so slowly that it could be as much as 140 million years before the length of a day will have increased to 25 hours.
  • The Earth was once believed to be the centre of the universe.
    Due to the apparent movements of the Sun and planets in relation to their viewpoint, ancient scientists insisted that the Earth remained static, whilst other celestial bodies travelled in circular orbits around it. Eventually, the view that the Sun was at the centre of the universe was postulated by Copernicus, though this is also not the case.
  • Earth has a powerful magnetic field.
    This phenomenon is caused by the nickel-iron core of the planet, coupled with its rapid rotation. This field protects the Earth from the effects of solar wind.
  • There is only one natural satellite of the planet Earth.
    As a percentage of the size of the body it orbits, the Moon is the largest satellite of any planet in our solar system. In real terms, however, it is only the fifth largest natural satellite.
  • Earth is the only planet not named after a god.
    The other seven planets in our solar system are all named after Roman gods or goddesses. Although only MercuryVenusMarsJupiterand Saturn were named during ancient times, because they were visible to the naked eye, the Roman method of naming planets was retained after the discovery of Uranus and Neptune.
  • The Earth is the densest planet in the Solar System.
    This varies according to the part of the planet; for example, the metallic core is denser than the crust. The average density of the Earth is approximately 5.52 grams per cubic centimeter.

Facts from Leo:

  • -70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water
    When astronauts first went into the space, they looked back at the Earth with human eyes for the first time, and called our home the Blue Planet. And it’s no surprise. 70% of our planet is covered with oceans. The remaining 30% is the solid ground, rising above sea level.
  • -Earth is mostly iron, oxygen and silicon
    If you could separate the Earth out into piles of material, you’d get 32.1 % iron, 30.1% oxygen, 15.1% silicon, and 13.9% magnesium. Of course, most of this iron is actually down at the core of the Earth. If you could actually get down and sample the core, it would be 88% iron. 47% of the Earth’s crust consists of oxygen.
  • -Earth doesn’t take 24 hours to rotate on its axis
    It’s actually 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4 seconds. This is the amount of time it takes for the Earth to completely rotate around its axis; astronomers call this a sidereal day. Now wait a second, that means a day is 4 minutes shorter than we think it is. You’d think that time would add up, day by day, and within a few months, day would be night, and night would be day.
  • -A year on Earth isn’t 365 days
    It’s actually 365.2564 days. It’s this extra .2564 days that creates the need for leap years. That’s why we tack on an extra day in February every year divisible by 4 – 2004, 2008, etc – unless it’s divisible by 100 (1900, 2100, etc)… unless it’s divisible by 400 (1600, 2000, etc).
  • -Earth has 1 moon and 2 co-orbital satellites
    As you’re probably aware, Earth has 1 moon (The Moon). But did you know there are 2 additional asteroids locked into a co-orbital orbits with Earth? They’re called 3753 Cruithne and 2002 AA29. We won’t go into too much detail about the Moon, I’m sure you’ve heard all about it.
  • 3753 Cruithne is 5 km across, and sometimes called Earth’s second moon. It doesn’t actually orbit the Earth, but has a synchronized orbit with our home planet. It has an orbit that makes it look like it’s following the Earth in orbit, but it’s actually following its own, distinct path around the Sun.
  • 2002 AA29 is only 60 meters across, and makes a horseshoe orbit around the Earth that brings it close to the planet every 95 years. In about 600 years, it will appear to circle Earth in a quasi-satellite orbit. Scientists have suggested that it might make a good target for a space exploration mission.
  • -The Earth is not actually round in shape; in fact it is geoid. This simply means that the rounded shape has a slight bulge towards the equator. So what causes this geoid shape? This happens solely because the rotation of the Earth which causes the bulge around the equator.
  • -The Earth tilts at roughly 66 degrees.
  • -Only 3% water of the earth is fresh, rest 97% salted. Of that 3%, over 2% is frozen in ice sheets and glaciers. Means less than 1% fresh water is found in lakes, rivers and underground.
  • -Asia Continent is covered 30% of the total earth land area, but represent 60% of the world’s population.
  • -Each winter there are about 1 septillion (1, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000 or a trillion trillion) snow crystals that drop from the sky.

1) Earth is the third planet from the sun in our solar system. Its name comes from the the old English and Germanic words meaning ‘the ground’.

2) Our amazing planet has been around for quite some time. By researching our planet’s rocks, scientists have calculated the Earth to be around 4.5 billion years old!

3) Like all the planets, Earth orbits (travels around) around the sun. And it does so at some serious speed –– around 30 kilometres per second, in fact! It takes 365 days (one year) for the Earth to complete one full orbit. 

4) Have you ever wondered why we have different seasons? We’ll tell you –– it’s because the Earth is tilted 23.4 degrees on its ‘axis’, an imaginary line straight through the middle of the planet form the North Pole to the South Pole. This means that different parts of the globe are tilted towards the sun at different times of the year (or at different times during its orbit).

5) Not only does Earth zoom through space, it also spins on its axis. The result? We have daytime and nighttime! As the planet rotates, the side facing the sun receives daylight and the the other is in darkness.

6) People often think of Earth as a gigantic sphere. But, in fact, its shape is more like a squished ball that bulges out at the equator –– an imaginary line around the middle of the planet, exactly between the North Pole and the South Pole

7) This ‘bulge’ is caused by the Earth’s spin and the effect of ‘gravity‘. Gravity is an invisible force that attracts objects towards each other. It’s this force that pulls things towards the Earth and stops us floating off into space!

8) The Earth’s diameter (distance straight through the middle) measures a huge 12,800 kilometres, making it the fifth largest planet in the solar system. JupiterSaturnUranus and Neptune are even bigger!

9) Earth is the only planet in our solar system known to support life. This is because it has two very important things that living creatures need to survive –– lots of oxygen and lots of water! Its distance from the sun means it’s not too hot and not too cold for creatures to live on, too.

10) Earth’s ‘atmosphere’ is also hugely important for sustaining life. The atmosphere is a huge blanket of gases – mostly oxygen and nitrogen – wrapped around Earth, protecting our planet from the sun’s strong rays. At the same time, the atmosphere helps keep the Earth’s temperature comfortable for living beings – and it protects us from meteors, too!

https://www.natgeokids.com/au/discover/science/space/facts-about-the-earth/

Moon

Earth is the only planet that has a single moon. Our Moon is the brightest and most familiar object in the night sky. In many ways, the Moon is responsible for making Earth such a great home. It stabilizes our planet’s wobble, which has made the climate less variable over thousands of years.

Earth sometimes temporarily hosts orbiting asteroids or large rocks. They are typically trapped by Earth’s gravity for a a few months or years before returning to an orbit around the Sun. Some asteroids will be in a long “dance” with Earth as both orbit the Sun.

Some moons are bits of rock that were captured by a planet’s gravity, but our Moon is likely the result of a collision billions of years ago. When Earth was a young planet, a large chunk of rock smashed into it, displacing a portion of Earth’s interior. The resulting chunks clumped together and formed our Moon. With a radius of 1,080 miles (1,738 kilometers), the Moon is the fifth largest moon in our solar system (after Ganymede, Titan, Callisto and Io).

The Moon is farther away from Earth than most people realize. The Moon is an average of 238,855 miles (384,400 kilometers) away. That means 30 Earth-sized planets could fit in between Earth and the Moon.

Potential for Life

Earth has a very hospitable temperature and mix of chemicals that have made life possible here. Most notably, Earth is unique in that most of our planet is covered in water, since the temperature allows liquid water to exist for extended periods of time. Earth’s vast oceans provided a convenient place for life to begin about 3.8 billion years ago.

Some of the features of our planet that make it great for sustaining life are changing due to the ongoing effects of climate change. To find out more visit our sister website, climate.nasa.gov.

More About Our Earth

Earth’s Core Is as Hot as the Sun’s Surface

“Within uncertainty, the temperature at the center of the Earth is the same as the temperature at the surface of the sun (5800 K),” Caltech geochemist Paul Asimow tells Popular Mechanics. At about almost 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s hot.

Earth’s Core Is as Hot as the Sun’s Surface

“Within uncertainty, the temperature at the center of the Earth is the same as the temperature at the surface of the sun (5800 K),” Caltech geochemist Paul Asimow tells Popular Mechanics. At about almost 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s hot.

Mosses Are Everywhere

“Mosses live on the surface soils in deserts all across the world. A cool thing about moss is that they have the ability to capture water straight out of the air using these specialized structures that look like little hairs coming out of their leaves—called awns,” USGS research ecologist Sasha Reed, tells Popular Mechanics. “In the dry places that these mosses live, this is a pretty cool trick!”

Earthquake Weather Is a Myth

“Each culture has a its own version of ‘earthquake weather’ to rationalize when and where a earthquake will hit,” seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones of Caltech tells Popular Mechanics. “Earthquakes are below the surface and need a constant fault to happen and this has nothing to do with weather.”

“We are headed toward a two-foot sea level rise by the end of this century,” climate scientist Tapio Schneider of Caltech tells Popular Mechanics. “Consequences from a one to two-foot sea level rise could mean severe threats to low-lying island nations, loss of narrow, shallow beaches, and a demise of marine ecosystems.”

Seas Could Rise 2.5 Feet By 2100

“We are headed toward a two-foot sea level rise by the end of this century,” climate scientist Tapio Schneider of Caltech tells Popular Mechanics. “Consequences from a one to two-foot sea level rise could mean severe threats to low-lying island nations, loss of narrow, shallow beaches, and a demise of marine ecosystems.”

Clouds Help Regulate Earth’s Temperature

“If you bring all water droplets in clouds to the surface, you would cover Earth with a liquid film no thicker than a human hair,” Schneider of Caltech tells Popular Mechanics. “And yet, this tiny amount of water makes the difference between cool overcast summer days and warm clear days. And it is immensely important for climate. On average, clouds cool Earth by 13 F relative to what global temperatures would be without clouds.”

“How much global warming we get crucially depends on whether we get more or fewer clouds as the climate warms,” Schneider says. “Climate models do not agree on the answer, because simulating clouds and the tiny amount of water in them is hard. At Caltech, we are working on using AI to make climate models and their cloud simulations better, to get more precise answers about how climate will change.”

The Planet Is 10,000 Times Older Than Humans

“Planet Earth has an estimated age of 4,5 billion years,” Jeremiah P. Ostricker, a Senior Research Scholar at Princeton University tells Popular Mechanics. “Homo Sapiens has been around for at most 450,000 years, that is 1/10,000 the age of the planet. And then, more recently, we spread over the whole globe in 1/100,000 of the age of the planet.”

We Don’t Know Who “Named” the Earth Unlike other planets, no real historical data can be found on the person (or group) that named our planet “Earth.” The term Earth comes from Old English and High Germanic and is the only planet not named after a Greek or Roman god.

Earth Is a Heat Engine

“Earth is a giant heat engine. Heat from the Sun is absorbed where it is warm (the low latitudes and the surface) and heat is radiated as infrared where it is cold (the higher latitudes and the atmosphere),” Andy Ingersoll, a planetary scientist at Caltech, tells Popular Mechanics. “The work of the heat engine goes into the kinetic energy of winds and storms.” 

But…Not An Efficient One

“The Earth is not a very efficient heat engine,” says Ingersoll. “The temperature difference between the warm parts and the cold parts is a few tens of K, so the theoretical Carnot efficiency is about 10%. But most of that is wasted by the warm parts radiating their heat to the cold parts, creating entropy. The heat engine is about 1% efficient in generating kinetic energy, but that creates more entropy when the winds dissipate.”

Route 66 Is Longer Than the Distance to the Earth’s Core

“The boundary between Earth’s mantle and core is roughly 3000 km below our feet—a little less than the total length of America’s ‘Mother Road’, Route 66.,” seismolog

ist Jennifer Jackson of Caltech tells Popular Mechanics. “Thought to be a simple interface between solid rocks and liquid iron-rich metal, this remote region is almost as complex as Earth’s surface.”

“Impossible to reach in person, geophysical and experimental studies of this distant region reveal a fascinating landscape of chemical and structural complexity that influence what’s happening on Earth’s surface,” Jackson says. “For example, the complex dynamics of Earth’s core-mantle boundary affects Earth’s protective geomagnetic field and the motion of tectonic plates.”

A Magnitude 12 Earthquake Would Split the Earth in Half

“We’ve never seen anything larger than 9.5 and it was longer than the state of California,” says Jones. “It would be theoretically impossible to have a magnitude 13 earthquake since it would require a fault bigger than the Earth.”

Earthquakes Can Be Felt on the Other Side of the Planet

“Earthquakes can happen over 400 miles below the Earth’s surface and be felt literally on the other side of the Earth,” seismologist Zhongwen Zhan of Caltech tells Popular Mechanics. “In 2013, a magnitude 8 occurred near the Kuril Islands at about 400 miles depth. People in Australia felt the event!”

The First Ozone Hole Is Still Healing Scientists discovered the first hole in the ozone layer, located directly above Antarctica in 1985. The Montreal Protocol of 1987 was the first plan approved by every country in the United Nations and focused on the restriction of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs that emitted ozone destroying chlorines). There Are a Billion Microbes in a Teaspoon of Soil “The number of microbes in a teaspoon of soil is estimated to be roughly equivalent to the number of humans currently living in Africa (one billion),” biologist Dianne Newman of Caltech tells Popular Mechanics. Days Are Getting Longer “The tides are the small differences between the gravitational pull of the Moon and the Sun and the centrifugal forces in the opposite directions. The tides on Earth are strongest when the three bodies are in a line, which happens near full Moon and new Moon. Then the Earth is being stretched out along that line,” says Ingersoll. “The ocean responds the most, but even the solid Earth responds to the tidal forces,” he says. “The response consists of water moving in the oceans and rocks moving underground, both of which dissipate kinetic energy. The net result is that the Earth is spinning down—the day is getting longer.” You Can See Earth Shrinking From Space “Groundwater pumping can cause significant land surface subsidence—enough so that it can be ‘seen’ from space.” Sheets says. Researchers use satellites and GPS stations to track how far the Earth has sunk. There Are More Viruses Than Stars in the Universe Earth is teeming with viruses. There are an estimated 10 nonillion individual viruses on the planet. That’s “enough to assign one to every star in the universe 100 million times over,” Katherine J. Wu writes in National Geographic. https://www.popularmechanics.com/science/environment/g32107914/earth-strange-facts/?slide=20

Life on Earth

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