cool-facts-about-earth

Cool Facts About Earth

tl;dr: check out our 10 Facts About Earth Infographic.

We’ve been going through the Solar System and identifying cool facts about each planet, cool facts that you might not otherwise know. You can check out our previous articles about cool facts about Mercury and Venus here.

However, now that we’re onto the 3rd rock from the Sun, it’s going to be slightly more unusual than our other articles since you’re hopefully already very, very familiar with this planet. If not, please phone home.

When you ask, people usually have a favorite planet. Recently, everyone loves Pluto because it got black-balled from our Solar System’s list of planets. But rarely does anyone ever say Earth. Maybe because they’re just too close to it or don’t even think about it as a potential candidate for a favorite.

 

cool-facts-about-earth-iss-orbit

“STS-130 Endeavour flyaround 5” by NASA – http://goo.gl/Ehdnqu. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://goo.gl/3760ec

 

Favorite or not, we love this 4.5 billion year old piece of rock and are thankful every day that it’s so special and unique, that as of today it’s the only place in the Universe (that we know of) which hosts life.

Well, let’s dive in and see what Cool Facts About Earth we can dig up and see if you can learn a thing or two about the largest of the terrestrial planets and the only planet in our Solar System not to be named after a Greek of Roman god or goddess.

See what we did there? Two cool facts you didn’t know, I’d say we’re already off to a good start!

Earth’s Planetary Profile:

  • Planetary Mass: 5,972,190,000,000,000 billion kg (1 x Earth)
  • Planetary Diameter: 7,917.5 miles
  • Planetary Radius: 3,959 miles
  • Planetary Circumference: 24,901 miles
  • Planetary Moons: 1, Luna
  • Average Solar Orbital Distance: 92,956,050 miles
  • Solar Orbit Period: 365.26 Earth days
  • Planetary Surface Temperature: Average 61 degrees Fahrenheit
  • First Record of Earth: Day 1 of Humans
  • Recorded By: Adam?
  • Distance From Earth: 0 Million Miles

Cool Facts About Earth – Fact #1:

The Earth is Slowing Down.

It’s true, the Earth is old and getting older. Our Planet is 4,543,000,000 years old and starting to show signs of its age.

The Earth’s rotation is slowing down and we all know what that means… longer days! That’s great news, so what you can’t get done in 24 hours, today, you’ll get an extra hour in another 140 million years.

While the Earth is slowing down, it’s not slowing down very quickly. The Earth is slowing down about 17 milliseconds every 100 years. Basically as long as it would take your brain to process a picture.

 

cool-facts-about-earth-iss-shooting-star

Photo by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, https://flic.kr/p/adBqvw

 

Good news though, in another 140 million years, an Earth day will be 25 hours long! Bad news, it’s expected that the average work day will have increased to 9 hours long… ugh!

Currently, the Earth spins around its axis at roughly 1,070 miles per hour.

Currently, the Earth spins around the Sun at roughly 67,062 miles per hour.

Cool Facts About Earth – Fact #2:

The Coldest Place in the Universe: Earth.

It’s wildly known that the Universe formed from a single Big Bang, which was a massive explosion of matter and heat. Today, space is a pretty cold place.

The Universe is mostly made up of empty voids of space, hence its reference name of space. The space between astronomical objects is on average about -454 degrees Fahrenheit. Pretty cold!

 

cool-facts-about-earth-earthrise

Photo by Stuart Rankin, https://flic.kr/p/onmA4G

 

Scientists and Astronomers have recently found the coldest object in space, the Boomerang Nebula and it’s 1 degree Kelvin, which is -458 degrees Fahrenheit.

However, the coldest temperature in the Universe is actually here, on Earth, in the United States, in Boston at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Scientists were able to get temperatures down below 1 nano-Kelvin, which is one billionth of a degree Kelvin. This was done by cooling sodium gas and is the coldest temperature in the known Universe.

Cool Facts About Earth – Fact #3:

Earth is Actually Two Planets.

Don’t worry, you’re not crazy, the Earth is only one object. However, it is made up of two objects. Based on the Giant Impact Hypothesis and in researching how the moon was formed, Theia was a planet roughly the size of Mars and was orbiting our Sun ages and ages ago.

 

how-the-moon-was-formed

Photo by Rufus Gefangenen, https://flic.kr/p/tJqui

 

Theia was knocked out of her orbit and collided with the Earth. As these two massive planetary bodies smashed in to one another, their matter was blasted out into space. All of these pieces of expelled matter later came to form the Moon, due to gravity, orbit and condensing objects.

So while we think of Earth as one planet, it’s actually the combination of two planets; old Earth and Theia.

Cool Facts About Earth – Fact #4:

Earth Loves Water.

Not too long ago, we believed that the Earth was entirely unique in the fact that it had water on it. Now, we know of many places, many places even in our own Solar System contain water – in some form or another.

  • Mercury has frozen ice in deep crater basins
  • Luna (Earth’s Moon) has water deposits bound to minerals at its poles
  • Mars has ice at its poles in the form of permafrost and even water below its surface
  • Ceres’s surface is mostly made of ice and a liquid ocean might exist under its surface
  • The Asteroid Belt has countless ice deposits
  • Europa, Callisto and Ganymede (Jupiter’s moons) all have surfaces mostly made of ice and liquid oceans are believed to exist under their surfaces, too.
  • Titan (Saturn’s moon) has a surface which likely sustains liquid hydrocarbon oceans and maybe even liquid water oceans below its surface.
  • Enceladus (Saturn’s moon) has a surface partially covered by ice and has active geysers which is likely proof that there is liquid water below its surface.
  • Rhea (Saturn’s moon) is mostly made up of ice and potentially has liquid oceans below its surface.
  • Titania and Oberon (Uranus’s moons) both have surfaces mostly made up of ice and many theorize a liquid ocean might exist below their surfaces.
  • Neptune might have massive deposits of highly compressed liquid oceans below its super thick atmosphere.
  • Triton (Neptune’s Moon) has a partial ice layer on its surface and potentially a liquid ocean beneath its surface.
  • Pluto has some of its surface covered in ice and might even have a liquid ocean below its surface.

Check out this page for a great image of all of the water found in our Solar System.

 

cool-facts-about-earth-water

Photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, https://flic.kr/p/ccpiVy

 

Regardless of all of the water in our Solar System, Earth is the only place where water exists in all three states: liquid, ice and vapor.

Cool Facts About Earth – Fact #5:

Earth is the Densest Planet.

Of all the planets in our Solar System Earth has the highest density of them all.

There are currently three different types of planets in our Solar System; Terrestrial, Gas and Ice planets. The four closest planets to the Sun are our Terrestrial Planets; Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars.

The large outer Solar System planets are the Gas Giant Planets; Jupiter and Saturn. The furthest planets in the outer Solar System are the Ice Planets; Uranus and Neptune.

Density is measured mathematically by Mass divided by Volume:

  • D = M/V

The Planet’s density in our Solar System is measured by comparison to the density of water, which is; 1 gram per cubic centimeter.

 

Planet

Density

Density Rank

Mercury

5.4

2

Venus

5.2

3

Earth

5.5

1

Mars

3.9

4

Jupiter

1.3

6

Saturn

0.7

8

Uranus

1.2

7

Neptune

1.6

5

 

Cool Facts About Earth – Fact #6:

Earth isn’t a Sphere.

Well, not a perfect sphere. Because of gravity and centrifugal force, the Earth is slightly oval in shape, but not noticeably or even uniquely. This phenomena happens to a lot of planets and is exaggerated the faster a planet spins.

As the Earth spins, the gravitational pull from the Moon and the Sun cause a centrifugal force at the equator, which isn’t equal to the gravitational pull inward from the mass of the Earth, itself.

 

cool-facts-about-earth-oval

“AxialTiltObliquity” by I, Dennis Nilsson. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons – https://goo.gl/yu90Qi

 

With the Moon and Sun pulling outward and Earth’s gravity pulling inward, a stretching effect occurs and you get a slightly oval-shaped planet, rather than a perfectly spherical one.

The radius at the Earth’s Polar region is 3,945 miles, as where the radius at its Equatorial region is 3,963 miles. So basically, the Earth is a little chubbier than it is tall.

Cool Facts About Earth – Fact #7:

Earth is the Only Planet with Plate Tectonics.

We all know that Earth has Plate Tectonics, the things that make up the Earth’s crust. There are seven major plate tectonics on Earth, in order of size:

  1. Pacific Plate

  2. African Plate

  3. North American Plate

  4. Eurasian Plate

  5. Antarctic Plate

  6. Indo-Australian Plate

  7. South American Plate

Plate Tectonics all interact with one another in three different ways; convergent boundary interactions, divergent boundary interactions and transform boundary interactions.

  • Convergent boundary interactions: are when two Plate Tectonics come together

  • Divergent boundary interactions: are when two Plate Tectonics are pulled away from one another

  • Transform boundary interactions: are when two Plate Tectonics slide past one another laterally.

Without these plates, we wouldn’t have: earthquakes, volcanoes or eruptions, mountains or even ocean trenches.

Cool Facts About Earth – Fact #8:

The Best Recycler: Earth.

With so many humans on Earth, it’s critical we recycle as much of our waste as possible so we don’t over pollute the Earth for future generations. Some take this seriously and others less so, but nobody takes it more seriously than the Earth, itself.

The Earth recycles itself and its surface. The rock cycle transforms Igneous rock into Sedimentary rock, which gets transformed into Metamorphic rock and then repeats itself, over and over.

Imagine the cycle processing like this; magma from deep within the Earth gets pushed up through volcanic eruptions and eventually hardens into (Igneous) rock.

 

cool-facts-about-earth-rock

Photo by faungg’s photos, https://flic.kr/p/eKCf1z

 

Eventually, Plate Tectonics lift that hardened Igneous rock to the surface, where erosion deteriorates part of the rock into individual bits and pieces. These bits and pieces get deposited and buried under ground and pressure from above them compacts them into Sedimentary rock.

The further these Sedimentary rocks get buried, the hotter it gets, eventually they can get pushed back into the Earth’s core and melted back into magma when they get caught under two Plate Tectonics pushing against one another.

This process happens over and over and eventually the surface of the Earth gets recycled.

Cool Facts About Earth – Fact #9:

Richie Rich: Earth’s Oceans.

Earth’s oceans are more than just hosts to a vast and uncountable amount of species; they’re also the richest bodies on Earth.

It’s estimated that the Earth’s oceans have more than 20,000,000 tons of gold in them.

To put it into perspective, a typical gold bar you see on TV or in the movies is a 400 Troy Oz bar of 999.9 fine Gold Bullion. These bars weigh 27.42 lbs, each. 1 ton is roughly 73 of these gold bullion bars.

 

cool-facts-about-earth-ocean

Photo by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, https://flic.kr/p/n765Vb

 

The ocean’s have enough gold in them to equal roughly 1,460,000,000 gold bullion bars.

In all of our history as humans here on Earth, there has only been 183,534 tons of gold mined and present today. That’s only 13,397,982 gold bullion bars. If you melted down all of the gold currently mined on Earth, it would fit into an Olympic swimming pool.

Each liter of seawater contains on average about 13/1,000,000,000 of a gram of gold. Not ideal of extraction or mining operations… yet.

Cool Facts About Earth – Fact #10:

Earth had a Baby.

Ok, well not really. but kind of. The current and widely accepted hypothesis for how the Moon was formed comes from the collision of Theia and Earth; known as the Giant Impact Theory.

Theia was a planet roughly the same size as Mars and was part of our Solar System. For some reason Theia was knocked out of its orbit and collided with Earth. As these two planets made whoopie, they gave birth to the Moon.

 

 cool-facts-about-earth-moon

Photo by Bluedharma, https://flic.kr/p/8T7qf

 

The Earth and the Moon have come to depend on one another. Much like a child and its mother, the Earth and the Moon are locked to one another through gravitational attractions. The Moon has become tidally locked to the Earth, so the Moon rotates around its axis at the same rate the Earth rotates around its axis.

 

cool-facts-about-earth-axis-tilt

“Earth-Moon” by Earth-image from NASA; arrangement by brews_ohare – NASA http://goo.gl/JdEHPt. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://goo.gl/w4GDgN

 

Without the moon, there’d be no life on Earth. The Moon is the cause for the tides in the oceans. It’s also thought that Earth’s axial tilt is the result of the gravitational influence of the Moon. Without this tilt, the Earth’s rotational axis would be chaotically unstable and cause wild changes to the Earth’s climate over the course of millions of years – much like that of modern-day Mars.

Other Random Cool Facts About Earth:

  • Earth was once thought to be the center of the Universe.
  • Earth was also once thought to be the center of our Solar System.
  • Earth has a powerful magnetic field caused by its nickel-iron core.
  • Earth takes its name from an old Anglo-Saxon word “Erda”, meaning ground or soil.
  • Earth’s atmosphere is made up of 78% Nitrogen, 21 Oxygen and trace amounts of other gases; Argon and Carbon Dioxide.
  • Earth has an Ozone layer which protects it from harmful solar radiation.
  • 70% of Earth’s surface is covered by water.
  • The Earth’s axis is tilted at roughly 23.45 degrees.
  • There are actually 23 hours 56 minutes and 4 seconds each day, 365.242 days each year – hence the need for a Leap Day.
  • Earth’s Perihelion orbit is 91,402,640 miles, when it’s closest to the Sun.
  • Earth’s Aphelion orbit is 94,509,460 miles, when it’s furthest from the Sun.
  • The average of the Perihelion and the Aphelion orbit is 92,956,050 miles, which is the standard unit of measurement in Astronomy: 1 Astronomic Unit.
  • Earth has 2 co-orbital satellite moons: 3753 Cruithne and 2002 AA29.
  • Earth is also the only known planet to host life, further research is needed to determine if it’s intelligent or not 🙂

 

 

Feature image by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, https://flic.kr/p/ceLYvE
Sources:
http://space-facts.com/earth/
http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/about-us/41-our-solar-system/the-earth/orbit/91-at-what-speed-does-the-earth-move-around-the-sun-beginner
http://theplanets.org/earth/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth
http://www.space.com/54-earth-history-composition-and-atmosphere.html
http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/profile.cfm?Display=Facts&Object=Earth
http://www.oddee.com/item_98433.aspx
http://io9.com/5827649/a-map-of-all-the-water-in-the-solar-system
http://www.factslides.com/s-Earth
http://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/teachers/densities.html
http://www.livescience.com/19102-amazing-facts-earth.html
http://demonocracy.info/infographics/world/gold/gold.html
http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/gold.html
http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20140916-the-coldest-place-in-the-universe
http://news.mit.edu/2003/cooling
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-coldest-place-in-the-universe-8121922/?no-ist

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