The third planet out from the Sun,
the Earth is 93½ million miles away from on average.
- fifth largest planet in the Solar system.
- a diameter of 7,972½ miles and a circumference of 25,046 miles at the equator.
- along with Mercury, Venus and Mars – Earth is one of four rocky planets; it is made mostly rocky with a core of iron and nickel.
- no other planet in the Solar System has liquid water on its surface – Earth is uniquely suitable for life.
- more than 70% of Earth’s surface is underwater.
- atmosphere is mainly harmless nitrogen and life-giving oxygen; 125 miles deep.
- oxygen has been made and maintained by plants over billions of years.
- magnetic field – stretching 37,500 miles out into space for protects from the Sun’s Radiation.
- Earth’s orbit around the Sun is 587½ miles in length and takes 365¼ days.
- although the Earth is tilted at an angle of 23½ degrees – orbits the Sun on a level plane; the plane of the ecliptic.
Earth is made up of the same materials as meteorites and the other rocky planets – mostly iron (35%), oxygen (28%), silicon (17%), magnesium (15%) and nickel (2.7%).
- solar system was created when the gas cloud left over from a giant supernova explosion started to collapse in in itself and spin.
- around 4¾ billion years ago – only a vast hot cloud of dust and gas circling a new star; our Sun was existed.
- Earth might began when tiny pieces of space debris (planetesimals) were pulled together by each other’s gravity.
- as the earth formed – more space debris kept on smashing into it, adding new material – this debris included ice from the edges of the Solar System.
- about 4½ billions years ago – rock the size of Mars crashed into the earth; this debris joined together to form the Moon.
- this collision that created the Moon made the Earth very hot.
- radioactive decay heated the Earth even more.
- for a long time – the surface of the earth was a mass of erupting volcanoes.
- heavy materials – iron and nickel melted and sank to form the core.
- lighter materials – aluminium, oxygen and silicon, floated up and cooled to form the crust.
- blanket of gases – we call it air that extends from the planet’s surface up to a height of about 60 miles.
- most of the air is concentrated in the lowest part of the atmosphere the air gets changing thinner with increasing attitude – around above 7,000 metres, there is not enough oxygen for people to breathe.
- near the surface, our atmosphere consists of nitrogen (78%), oxygen (21%) and small amounts of argon, carbon dioxide and other gases, together with a variable amount of water vapour.
- atmosphere – divided into a series of layers that have different characteristics.
- troposphere – the lowest level; extends up to around 6 miles above the sea level ~ the weather and human activity are largely restricted to the troposphere.
- stratosphere – extends from 6 miles to around 30 miles in altitude, and contains the ozone layer that shields earth’s surface from the harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation on sunlight.
- mesosphere – above the stratosphere, most meteors that are seen burn up in the mesosphere (30 to 50 miles). (sometimes, it’s called the upper stratosphere.)
- exosphere – the uppermost level of the atmosphere; extends between 50 and 250 miles above stratosphere.
- ionosphere – around a planet that contains atoms and molecules that have been ionized by strong X-rays and UV light.
- extends from around 30 miles above the sea level out beyond the atmosphere to about 600 miles; the ionosphere contains a series of distinct layers (Heaviside Layer) that are used to reflect radio signals around the planet.
Back to The Solar System page.