Introduction :

Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. According to radiometric dating estimation and other evidence, Earth formed over 4.5 billion years ago. Earth's gravity interacts with other objects in space, especially the Sun and the Moon, which is Earth's only natural satellite. Earth orbits around the Sun in 365.256 solar days, a period known as an Earth sidereal year. During this time, Earth rotates about its axis 366.256 times; that is, a sidereal year has 366.256 sidereal days. Earth's axis of rotation is tilted with respect to its orbital plane, producing seasons on Earth. The gravitational interaction between Earth and the Moon causes tides, stabilizes Earth's orientation on its axis, and gradually slows its rotation. Earth is the densest planet in the Solar System and the largest and most massive of the four rocky planets. Earth's outer layer (lithosphere) is divided into several rigid tectonic plates that migrate across the surface over many millions of years. About 29% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remaining 71% is covered with water, mostly by oceans but also lakes, rivers and other freshwater, which altogether constitute the hydrosphere. The majority of Earth's polar regions are covered in ice, including the Antarctic ice sheet and the sea ice of the Arctic ice pack. Earth's interior remains active with a solid iron inner core, a liquid outer core that generates Earth's magnetic field, and a convecting mantle that drives plate tectonics.

Size and Distance :

With a radius of 3,959 miles (6,371 kilometers), Earth is the biggest of the terrestrial planets, and the fifth largest planet overall.

From an average distance of 93 million miles (150 million kilometers), Earth is exactly one astronomical unit away from the Sun because one astronomical unit (abbreviated as AU), is the distance from the Sun to Earth. This unit provides an easy way to quickly compare planets' distances from the Sun.

It takes about eight minutes for light from the Sun to reach our planet.

Orbit and Rotation :

As Earth orbits the Sun, it completes one rotation every 23.9 hours. It takes 365.25 days to complete one trip around the Sun. That extra quarter of a day presents a challenge to our calendar system, which counts one year as 365 days. To keep our yearly calendars consistent with our orbit around the Sun, every four years we add one day. That day is called a leap day, and the year it's added to is called a leap year.

Earth's axis of rotation is tilted 23.4 degrees with respect to the plane of Earth's orbit around the Sun. This tilt causes our yearly cycle of seasons. During part of the year, the northern hemisphere is tilted toward the Sun and the southern hemisphere is tilted away. With the Sun higher in the sky, solar heating is greater in the north producing summer there. Less direct solar heating produces winter in the south. Six months later, the situation is reversed. When spring and fall begin, both hemispheres receive roughly equal amounts of heat from the Sun.

Compositions :

Earth's mass is approximately 5.97×1024 kg (5,970 Yg). It is composed mostly of iron (32.1%), oxygen (30.1%), silicon (15.1%), magnesium (13.9%), sulphur (2.9%), nickel (1.8%), calcium (1.5%), and aluminum (1.4%), with the remaining 1.2% consisting of trace amounts of other elements. Due to mass segregation, the core region is estimated to be primarily composed of iron (88.8%), with smaller amounts of nickel (5.8%), sulphur (4.5%), and less than 1% trace elements. The most common rock constituents of the crust are nearly all oxides: chlorine, sulphur, and fluorine are the important exceptions to this and their total amount in any rock is usually much less than 1%. Over 99% of the crust is composed of 11 oxides, principally silica, alumina, iron oxides, lime, magnesia, potash and soda.

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Structure of Earth :

The internal structure of Earth is layered in spherical shells: an outer silicate solid crust, a highly viscous asthenosphere and mantle, a liquid outer core that is much less viscous than the mantle, and a solid inner core. Scientific understanding of the internal structure of Earth is based on observations of topography and bathymetry, observations of rock in outcrop, samples brought to the surface from greater depths by volcanoes or volcanic activity, analysis of the seismic waves that pass through Earth, measurements of the gravitational and magnetic fields of Earth, and experiments with crystalline solids at pressures and temperatures characteristic of Earth's deep interior.

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Atmosphere :

Satellite image of Earth cloud cover using NASA's Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer

The atmospheric pressure at Earth's sea level averages 101.325 kPa (14.696 psi), with a scale height of about 8.5 km (5.3 mi). A dry atmosphere is composed of 78.084% nitrogen, 20.946% oxygen, 0.934% argon, and trace amounts of carbon dioxide and other gaseous molecules. Water vapor content varies between 0.01% and 4% but averages about 1%. The height of the troposphere varies with latitude, ranging between 8 km (5 mi) at the poles to 17 km (11 mi) at the equator, with some variation resulting from weather and seasonal factors.

Earth's biosphere has significantly altered its atmosphere. Oxygenic photosynthesis evolved 2.7 Gya, forming the primarily nitrogen–oxygen atmosphere of today. This change enabled the proliferation of aerobic organisms and, indirectly, the formation of the ozone layer due to the subsequent conversion of atmospheric O2 into O3. The ozone layer blocks ultraviolet solar radiation, permitting life on land. Other atmospheric functions important to life include transporting water vapor, providing useful gases, causing small meteors to burn up before they strike the surface, and moderating temperature. This last phenomenon is known as the greenhouse effect: trace molecules within the atmosphere serve to capture thermal energy emitted from the ground, thereby raising the average temperature. Water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone are the primary greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Without this heat-retention effect, the average surface temperature would be −18 °C (0 °F), in contrast to the current +15 °C (59 °F), and life on Earth probably would not exist in its current form.

 

Weather and climate :

Earth's atmosphere has no definite boundary, slowly becoming thinner and fading into outer space. Three-quarters of the atmosphere's mass is contained within the first 11 km (6.8 mi) of the surface. This lowest layer is called the troposphere. Energy from the Sun heats this layer, and the surface below, causing expansion of the air. This lower-density air then rises and is replaced by cooler, higher-density air. The result is atmospheric circulation that drives the weather and climate through redistribution of thermal energy.

Hurricane Felix seen from low Earth orbit, September 2007. Massive clouds above the Mojave Desert, February 2016. The primary atmospheric circulation bands consist of the trade winds in the equatorial region below 30° latitude and the westerlies in the mid-latitudes between 30° and 60°. Ocean currents are also important factors in determining climate, particularly the thermohaline circulation that distributes thermal energy from the equatorial oceans to the polar regions.

The amount of solar energy reaching Earth's surface decreases with increasing latitude. At higher latitudes, the sunlight reaches the surface at lower angles, and it must pass through thicker columns of the atmosphere. As a result, the mean annual air temperature at sea level decreases by about 0.4 °C (0.7 °F) per degree of latitude from the equator. Earth's surface can be subdivided into specific latitudinal belts of approximately homogeneous climate. Ranging from the equator to the polar regions, these are the tropical (or equatorial), subtropical, temperate and polar climates.

Facts of Earth :

  1. Earth is the only planet in our solar system habitable for life.

  2. The Earth is geoid in shape.

  3. The Earth’s rotation is gradually slowing.

  4. The Earth was once believed to be the centre of the universe.

  5. Earth has got a strong magnetic field arising from North pole to South pole.

  6. Earth is the only planet which is not named after a Roman god or goddess.

  7. Earth is the densest planet in the solar system.

  8. Earth has only one natural satellite(moon).

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The narrow angle colour image of the Earth is the first ever portrait taken by Voyager 1.

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Earth goes around the Sun

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Earth's Atmosphere

Some More Facts :

-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.

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Earth's Natural Satellite (Moon)

Earth's Natural Satellite :

The Moon is an astronomical body orbiting Earth and is the planet's only natural satellite. It is the fifth-largest satellite in the Solar System and by far the largest among planetary satellites relative to the size of the planet that it orbits. The Moon is, after Jupiter's satellite Io, the second-densest satellite in the Solar System among those whose densities are known. The Moon is thought to have formed about 4.51 billion years ago, not long after Earth. The most widely accepted explanation is that the Moon formed from the debris left over after a giant impact between Earth and a hypothetical Mars-sized body called Theia. New research of Moon rocks, although not rejecting the Theia hypothesis, suggests that the Moon may be older than previously thought. The Moon is in synchronous rotation with Earth, and thus always shows the same side to Earth, the near side. Because of liberation, slightly more than half (about 59%) of the total lunar surface can be viewed from Earth. The near side is marked by dark volcanic maria that fill the spaces between the bright ancient crustal highlands and the prominent impact craters. After the Sun, the Moon is the second brightest celestial object regularly visible in Earth's sky. Its surface is actually dark, although compared to the night sky it appears very bright, with a reflectance just slightly higher than that of worn asphalt. Its gravitational influence produces the ocean tides, body tides, and the slight lengthening of the day.

3 D Model of Earth

Source: NASA Visualization Technology Applications and Development (VTAD)

Source Credits : NASA, Wikipedia and Space Facts.