In the last two centuries, humans have added enough greenhouse gases to the atmosphere to raise Earth's average temperature by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit. It shares how and when the earth's features, like mountains, oceans, or canyons were shaped. Every other solar system planet was named for a Greek or Roman deity, but for at least a thousand years, some cultures have described our world using the Germanic word “earth,” which means simply “the ground.”. Earthquakes rumble as these plates snag and slip past each other. 2) Our amazing planet has been around for quite some time. The Earth is divided into three main layers: the dense, hot inner core (yellow), the molten outer core (orange), the mantle (red), and the thin crust (brown), which supports all life in the known universe. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. Earth rotates on its axis every 23.9 hours, defining day and night for surface dwellers. While the giant reptiles have disappeared, rainforests continue to thrive, growing on every continent except Antarctica. As a result, scientists are increasingly monitoring Earth from space. Camera Submerged in Hot Lava, Keeps Recording, Vietnam's Ha Long Bay Is a Spectacular Garden of Islands, His Epic Message Will Make You Want to Save the World, Watch These Giant Whales Visit an Ocean ‘Day Spa’. They're everywhere. This axis of rotation is tilted 23.4 degrees away from the plane of Earth's orbit around the sun, giving us seasons. In a way, embedded fossils provide a selfie or picture of the environment at the time the rock was formed. A geologist sees granite, volcanic rock, limestone, and the Earth over millions of years. © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- But you don't want to stand on it.). The silhouette of a woman is seen on a Norwegian island beneath the Northern Lights (aurora borealis). Earth is the only planet known to maintain life. In the spring and fall, each hemisphere receives similar amounts of light. Whichever hemisphere is tilted closer to the sun experiences summer, while the hemisphere tilted away gets winter. Only Mercury’s crust has no tectonic plates. At the planet's heart lies the inner core, a solid sphere of iron and nickel that's 759 miles wide and as hot as 9,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Other missions, such as the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, are poised to find even more. During this circuit, our planet is an average of 93 million miles away from the sun, a distance that takes light about eight minutes to traverse. From the depths of the ocean to the top of the highest mountain, habitats are places where plants and animals live. Over time, Earth's interior—which is made mostly of silicate rocks and metals—differentiated into four layers. But for all that our atmosphere does, it's surprisingly thin. We also enjoy protection from Earth's magnetic field, generated by our planet's rotation and its iron-nickel core. Much like a greenhouse, this blanket of gases absorbs and retains heat. Ninety percent of Earth's atmosphere lies within just 10 miles of the planet's surface. About 4.5 billion years ago, gravity coaxed Earth to form from the gaseous, dusty disk that surrounded our young sun. Like the world's oldest blog, rock reveals millions of years of events and change. Many volcanoes form as seafloor crust smashes into and slides beneath continental crust. What Was the Biggest Volcanic Eruption in History? Download a PDF version this poster here! This teardrop-shaped field shields Earth from high-energy particles launched at us from the sun and elsewhere in the cosmos. Earth is the planet we have the best opportunity to understand in detail—helping us see how other rocky planets behave, even those orbiting distant stars. Latitude and Longitude - See the coordinates of any place on earth. An awesome ancient pyramid. (Okay, technically magma is uber-hot liquid rock. It forms our magnificent mountains, shapes the deepest oceans, and safely separates us from the boiling magma beneath our feet! Since our calendar years have only 365 days, we add an extra leap day every four years to account for the difference. New Discovery: Are These the Oldest Fossils Ever Found? In other words, rocks. By researching our planet’s rocks, scientists have calculated the Earth … Though we can't feel it, Earth zooms through its orbit at an average velocity of 18.5 miles a second. Time Lapse: Watch One Earth Year From Space, A Rock’s Fantastic, Imaginary Journey Through Time and Space. Earth's atmosphere is 78 percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen, and one percent other gases such as carbon dioxide, water vapor, and argon. Facts about the Earth. When plates of continental crust collide, mountain ranges such as the Himalaya are pushed toward the skies., lies within just 10 miles of the planet's surface, NASA Science Solar System Exploration - Earth. These bodies of water contain 97 percent of Earth's volcanoes and the mid-ocean ridge, a massive mountain range more than 40,000 miles long. Astronomers define this distance as one astronomical unit (AU), a measure that serves as a handy cosmic yardstick. One of the main components of Earth’s interdependent physical systems is the atmosphere. Its name comes from the the old English and Germanic words meaning ‘the ground’. In a way, embedded fossils provide a selfie or picture of the environment at the time the rock was formed. Earth is also unique in terms of monikers. With a radius of 3,959 miles, Earth is the fifth largest planet in our solar system, and it's the only one known for sure to have liquid water on its surface. Water and wind create sedimentary rock. At the same time, telescopes are gazing outward to find other Earths. (Each rock group includes hundreds of different kinds of rocks.).