Guide to the planets…Earth

Taken by Apollo 8 crewmember Bill Anders on De...

Fact file

  • third planet from the sun (distance from the sun: 92, 995, 820 miles)
  • thin but protective atmosphere
  • average surface temperature: ranges from 57.8 degrees C to -87.8 degrees C
  • length of year: 365 days, 6 hours and 16 minutes
  • length of day: 23 hours and 56 minutes
  • number of moons: 1

Earth is the third planet from the sun and is the only place in the universe we can be certain is able to support life, cause it’s our home! Earth has a thin atmosphere made of mostly nitrogen and oxygen along with other gases. The atmosphere is one of the main reasons why Earth can support life so well. The atmosphere creates the whether we experience each day as well as the long-term climate of the earth. It provides water to support life. It also protects us from the harmful radiation from the sun as well as protecting us from possible impacts from meteors that could damage the existence of life on Earth.

The earth also has a magnetic iron core. Due to the rapid rotation of the earth along with the iron core, a powerful magnetic field is created. this protects us from the solar winds from the sun. these are charged particles that are continuously ejected from the sun. these particles become trapped in the magnetic field created by earth, they collide with air particles around the planets poles. This air then glows creating the famous northern or southern lights.

The atmosphere also controls the planet by insulating it from the cold of space. Heat is trapped by the atmosphere, much like the way heat is trapped by Venus’ atmosphere that I mentioned in my other article. This helps to keep earth at a steady temperature. This ranges from around  58 degrees C to below -87 degrees C. the temperature depends on the local climate on the earth, the coldest temperatures, for example, are found in the polar regions and the mountain regions. In Mountain climates, the temperature falls by 1 degree C for every 100m rise.

the earth has a year of around 365 days and each day lasts around 24 hours. It’s year length is slightly longer than Venus and much more so than mercury. This is because planets travel slower around the sun the further away from the sun they are. The earth is the first planet, if travelling away from the sun, that has a moon. Our moon is important to keeping the earth stable in its climate, as it stabilizes the earth when it rotates. the moon is gradually moving away from the earth, so when the dinosaurs were on the earth around 65 million years ago, the moon would have been much bigger in the sky than what it appears to be today.

Sources

      – Information on the earth and moon was sourced from: http://science.nationalgeographic.co.uk/science/space/solar-system/earth.html

      – Photo credit: Wikipedia

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