The term “Earth” has its origins in the ancient English language. The Greek goddess of the Earth was known as “Terra Mater,” or “Earth Mother,” whereas the Roman goddess of the Earth was known as “Telus.” Aside from Old English, the term “Earth” is claimed to have originated in German.
Before the fourteenth century, it was thought that the Earth was flat and that sailing toward the horizon would cause a ship to sink. Columbus, on the other hand, is credited with disproving this on his trip to the “New World.” It wasn’t until the sixteenth century that the Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus proposed a new hypothesis that incorporated Earth as one of the planets that rotated on its axis and circled around the Sun. Until recently, it was also assumed that the sun and planets rotated around Earth.
In the twentieth century, full maps of the Earth’s surface were made. It was discovered that the Earth’s geographical surface is comparatively young in comparison to other planets. This is due to human activity deleting older surface characteristics from the Earth.
The Earth is the densest planet in the solar system, with a diameter of 7,909 miles, and despite the previous discussion, Earth has been found to be the only planet having life on it.
The Earth’s Orbit
Earth’s orbit is almost round, but not totally circular like Venus’. Earth’s perihelion is 91.4 miles (147 km), whereas its aphelion is 94.5 miles (152 km). Venus and Mars are its nearest neighbors, and it orbits around the Sun once every 365 days.
The Earth is also inclined around 23 degrees on its vertical axis, and a whole spinning cycle takes 23 hours and 56 minutes. This is in contrast to a “day” on Venus lasting 243 days.
This planet has a strong magnetic field due to its rapid spin on its axis and the abundance of nickel and iron in its core.
The Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, from Earth in October 1957. Sputnik was able to circle the Earth for one hundred minutes.
Sputnik 2 was launched in November 1957, becoming the second spacecraft to orbit the Earth. The third and first trip from Earth, headed by the United States of America, took place in January 1958. Explorer I, a satellite launched from Cape Canaveral, was able to detect the zone of radiation situated around the earth.
Following the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957, the American government increased financing for space exploration, and NASA was established in 1958 as a consequence.
A Day in the Life
The first thing you would notice if you were “seeing” planet Earth for the first time is its colors. The Earth appears white, blue, brown, and green as seen from space, signifying clouds, water, land, and flora, respectively. Your spaceship would reach the Van Allen Radiation Belt, a radiation zone that surrounds the planet and is responsible for killing meteorites entering the atmosphere.
The atmosphere of Earth is unlike that of any other planet. It is mostly composed of nitrogen (78%), oxygen (21%), and other gases (1%). The quantity of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere changes, and it was formerly thought that the Earth held more carbon dioxide, but carbon was lost through time as it was integrated into rocks.
It was also thought that the Earth’s atmosphere had no function other than to provide nitrogen to plants and oxygen to people. However, the atmosphere may shield humans from the Sun’s destructive rays and impact weather and climate trends. Under the influence of the Sun, the higher atmosphere will also expand and contract throughout the day and night.
Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere also contributes to the greenhouse effect, which helps keep the Earth warm. If it was not present, the temperature would be -4°F instead of 57°F. The oceans would not be able to stay liquid without the greenhouse effect.
In comparison to the other planets, the temperature on Earth changes very little due to the greenhouse effect, cloud cover, and the atmosphere. The impact of these three characteristics is most apparent when we examine how near we are to the Sun in comparison to the other planets. The ocean currents may also transport heat throughout the Earth, contributing to the tiny temperature variations.
The Earth’s topography is made up of valleys and mountain ranges with volcanic activity, the tallest mountain range being Mount Everest. Oceans on Earth divide the land into continents, with the Pacific Ocean being the biggest. There are eight main tectonic plates and around twenty minor plates. Earthquakes occur along fault lines when plates move against one another.
Auroras are one of the most fascinating phenomena witnessed exclusively on Earth. The Northern and Southern lights are caused by the interaction of solar wind with the Earth’s magnetic field. The charged particles in the solar wind are unable to escape the Earth’s magnetic field, resulting in Auroras, a “light display.”
The Moon of Earth
Numerous artificial satellites have been sent into orbit to monitor and report on surface weather and terrain changes. The Earth, on the other hand, has just one natural satellite or moon.
The Moon is positioned 238,857 miles from Earth and rotates around it once every 27 days. The moon’s gravity is one-sixth that of the Earth, and it has a diameter of 2,160 miles.
The Moon resembles Mercury in appearance and ranges in temperature from 212°F to -279°F throughout the day and night. This temperature range is caused by the moon’s absence of an atmosphere. Contrary to common perception, the moon cannot generate its own light and must instead “release” light reflected from the Sun. The Moon has various phases that may be seen from Earth depending on whatever part of its surface is lit.
The Earth’s moon has two surface features: smooth low-lying plains known as Maria (or “seas”) and crater regions known as Anorthosites. The soil composition of Maria is mostly iron and manganese, while that of Anorthosites is aluminum with calcium. The Anorthosites are thought to reflect older parts of the topography, while Maria looks newer in development. The Mare Tranquillitatis, popularly known as the “Sea of Tranquility,” is the most well-known.
Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin led the first American trip to the Moon in 1969 and were the first to walk on the Moon’s surface from the Apollo 11 spacecraft.
Statistics About Earth
|Discovered By||Known by the Ancients|
|Date of Discovery||Unknown|
|Average Distance from the Sun||Metric: 149,597,890 km|
English: 92,955,820 miles
Scientific Notation: 1.4959789 x 108 km (1.000 A.U.)
|Perihelion (closest)||Metric: 147,100,000 km|
English: 91,400,000 miles
Scientific Notation: 1.471 x 108 km (0.983 A.U.)
|Aphelion (farthest)||Metric: 152,100,000 km|
English: 94,500,000 miles
Scientific Notation: 1.521 x 108 km (1.017 A.U.)
|Equatorial Radius||Metric: 6,378.14 km|
English: 3,963.19 miles
Scientific Notation: 6.37814 x 103 km
By Comparison: 1 x Earth’s
|Equatorial Circumference||Metric: 40,075 km|
English: 24,901 miles
Scientific Notation: 4.0075 x 104 km
|Volume||Metric: 1,083,200,000,000 km3|
English: 259,900,000 mi3
Scientific Notation: 1.0832 x 1012 km3
By Comparison: 1 x Earth’s
|Mass||Metric: 5,973,700,000,000,000,000,000,000 kg|
Scientific Notation: 5.9737 x 1024 kg
|Density||Metric: 5.515 g/cm3|
|Surface Area||Metric: 510,065,700 km2|
English: 196,937,500 square miles
Scientific Notation: 5.100657 x 108 km2
|Equatorial Surface Gravity||Metric: 9.766 m/s2|
English: 32.041 ft/s2
|Escape Velocity||Metric: 40,248 km/h|
English: 25,009 mph
Scientific Notation: 11,180 m/s
|Sidereal Rotation Period (Length of Day)||0.99726968 Earth days|
|Sidereal Orbit Period (Length of Year)||1.0000174 Earth years|
365.24 Earth days
|Mean Orbit Velocity||Metric: 107,229 km/h|
English: 66,629 mph
Scientific Notation: 29,785.9 m/s
|Orbital Inclination to Ecliptic||0.00005 degrees|
|Equatorial Inclination to Orbit||23.45 degrees|
|Orbital Circumference||Metric: 924,375,700 km|
English: 574,380,400 miles
Scientific Notation: 9.243757 x 108 km
|Minimum/Maximum Surface Temperature||Metric: -88/58 (min/max) °C|
English: -126/136 (min/max) °F
Scientific Notation: 185/331 (min/max) K
|Atmospheric Constituents||Nitrogen, Oxygen|
Scientific Notation: N2, O2
By Comparison: N2 is 80% of Earth’s air and is a crucial element in DNA.
Encyclopedia Britannica. “Earth.” 2006. Encyclopedia Britannica Premium Service. 2006
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (N.A.S.A). “Earth: Facts & Figures.” 2006
World Book, Inc. “Moon.” World Book Online Reference Center. 2006. World Book, Inc.
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