Ten Fascinating Facts about Our Planet

Ten Fascinating Facts about Our Planet

1.     It’s True That Earth Isn’t Flat, but It’s Also Never Been Entirely Spherical

As Earth spins on its axis, it causes a 0.3% bulge in the planet’s surface at its equator.

The circumference of the Earth, measured from pole to pole, is 12,714 kilometers (7,900 miles). The diameter of the Earth at the equator is 12,756 kilometers (7,900 miles) (7,926 miles).

The distance of 42.78 kilometers (or 26.58 miles) is equivalent to around one-thirtieth of Earth’s diameter.

Images of Earth taken from space don’t reveal this discrepancy since it’s minor to spot. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has found evidence that receding glaciers contribute to the planet’s expanding girth.

2.     Lengthening Daylight Hours

The length of a day on Earth is growing longer. Around six hours would have passed in a day when Earth was created 4.6 billion years ago.

A total of 21.9 hours was logged by the end of the day by 620 Ma. The length of a modern-day, already a total of 24 hours, grows by around 1.7 milliseconds every century.

Why is that? By contributing to the formation of tides, the moon is slowing down Earth’s rotation.

The tidal ocean bulges on Earth have pulled slightly ahead of the moon-Earth axis due to Earth’s rotation. It creates a twisting force that causes Earth’s rotation to slow down.

Therefore, our day is growing in duration, but not to the point where it would make a difference in your hectic schedule.

3.     The Continents Have Been Together and Apart For Millions Of Years

About 800 million years ago, North America served as the epicenter of a massive supercontinent named Rodinia, assembled when the vast tectonic plates on which Earth’s land masses ride collided.

Over time, Rodinia disintegrated into numerous parts that collided again, somewhere between 250 and 500 million years ago, to form the Appalachian Mountains in North America and the Ural Mountains in Russia and Kazakhstan.

Pangaea was a second supercontinent that formed some 250 million years ago and was encompassed by a single, global ocean. After 50 million years, Pangaea started to fragment.

The continent eventually broke into the separate continents we know today when it was divided into two huge land masses, Gondwanaland and Laurasia.

4.     The Earth during Its Cold Periods

The Earth had many ice ages, or periods of frigid temperatures, between 600 and 800 million years ago.

Some scientists, known for their “snowball Earth” idea, believe that Earth nearly froze multiple times due to the extreme cold. It’s possible that four cycles of freezing and thawing, caused by decreases in greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide, blanketed the entire planet with glacial ice.

The average temperature of the planet would have been roughly -50 degrees Celsius (-74 degrees Fahrenheit) since most of the sun’s energy would have been reflected back into space by ice, making the equator about as cold as Antarctica is now.

Even if a snowball Earth did exist, which is debatable, we were spared the chill since only tiny and essential species were around at the time.

5.     Statistically, the Driest Region on the Planet

The Atacama Desert in northern Chile is the driest area on Earth, yet it is close to the Pacific Ocean, the world’s largest body of water. Arica, Chile, receives an average of only 0.8 millimeters of precipitation each year (0.03 inches).

Calama, Atacama, may have gone 400 years without rain before a big storm hit in 1972. The Atacama Desert is unusual in that it is relatively calm and does not even support cyanobacteria in its most arid portions. These green photosynthetic microorganisms dwell in rocks or under stones.

To better understand the possibility of life on other planets, NASA sends astrobiologists to the Atacama Desert in search of microbes that may survive in such harsh conditions.

6.     The Force of Gravity on Earth Varies

The gravitational field on Earth would be uniform if the planet were a perfect sphere. But in reality, the surface of the earth is rough, and the pull of gravity is altered by water flow, ice drift, and the movement of the tectonic plates beneath the Earth’s crust.

Gravity anomalies are the name given to these deviations. The Himalayas are responsible for a positive gravity anomaly, meaning that the region’s gravity is more significant than it would be on a featureless, completely smooth planet. In contrast, negative gravity anomalies result from the presence of ocean trenches or dips in the ground caused by glaciers millennia ago.

Above us in space, NASA’s GRACE (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) mission is a detailed picture of the planet’s gravitational field.

7.     Sea Levels Have Fluctuated Greatly Over History

Beginning 70,000 years ago, the most recent ice age on Earth lasted until 11,500 years ago and expanded to its farthest extent 18,000 years ago.

Great Lakes basins were reshaped, and rivers were rerouted when glaciers and ice dams reshaped the landscape 10,000 years ago. Sea levels decreased by as much as 120 meters (390 feet) because of the accumulation of ice, revealing previously hidden ocean floor regions.

Additionally, the Earth’s sea level has been as much as 70 meters (230 feet) higher in the past. The sea level was around 5–7 meters (16–23 ft.) more heightened during the last interglacial epoch than it is now.

8.     The Appetite of Our Star, the Sun, Is Insatiable

Including the sun, all stars eventually become old and fade away. When the sun runs out of hydrogen, it will expand under the pull of gravity, becoming a red giant that is 100 times larger and 2,000 times brighter than the sun today. This event will cause Earth to be vaporized. But have no fear; that time is roughly five billion years away.

Leaving Earth before this happens is possible. But doing so would necessitate technology we can’t even fathom and a place that’s still habitable.

The alternative option is that Earth will be flung away from the sun. It will happen after a few billion years because its orbit was disturbed by a star passing by.

According to scientists, the chances of this happening are one in one hundred thousand. It is better than winning the lottery. Without the sun, our offspring will likely freeze to death.

9.     Earth Has Other Planets and Satellites besides the Moon

Two more entities orbiting somewhat close to Earth are sometimes called moons despite not correctly fitting the definition.

Asteroid 3753 Cruithne was discovered in 1986 and followed a path around the sun. Considering that Cruithne’s orbit around the sun is the same duration as Earth’s, it appears Cruithne is trailing behind us. In a view from Earth, its orbit looks like a bean.

Similarly, asteroid 2002 AA29 makes an annual trip around the sun. But its horseshoe-shaped orbit gets it within 5.9 million kilometers (3.7 million miles) of Earth every 95 years. Because of AA29’s proximity to Earth, scientists have proposed retrieving samples for analysis here on Earth.

10. Just Before the Storm Hits

Under certain circumstances, there truly is a quiet period before a storm. To feed itself, a storm will pull in warm, wet air from the atmosphere, creating a region of low pressure as it moves out.

Some of the air sucked into the storm cloud during its ascent is pushed upwards by the strong winds.

The highest storm clouds have their hot air removed by updrafts, forcing the air out over the sides of the clouds.

The air gets more stable as it sinks because it warms and dries out as it travels downward.

People in the area below will feel serenity before the storm hits as the blanket stabilizes the air.

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