From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia This article is about the planet. For other uses, see Earth (disambiguation). Earth

"The Blue Marble" photograph of Earth, taken from Apollo 17 Designations i /ˈɜrθ/ Pronunciation Adjective earthly, tellurian, telluric, terran, terrestrial. Orbital characteristics
Epoch J2000.0[note 1]

Aphelion Perihelion Semi-major axis Eccentricity Orbital period Average orbital speed

152,098,232 km 1.01671388 AU[note 2] 147,098,290 km 0.98329134 AU[note 2] 149,598,261 km 1.00000261 AU[1] 0.01671123[1] 365.256363004 days[2] 1.000017421 yr 29.78 km/s[3]

107,200 km/h Mean anomaly 357.51716°[3] 7.155° to Sun's equator Inclination 1.57869°[4] to invariable plane Longitude of ascending node 348.73936°[3][note 3] Argument of perihelion 114.20783°[3][note 4] Satellites 1 (the Moon) Physical characteristics Mean radius 6,371.0 km[5] Equatorial radius 6,378.1 km[6][7] Polar radius 6,356.8 km[8] Flattening 0.0033528[9] 40,075.017 km (equatorial)[7] Circumference 40,008.00 km (meridional)[10] 510,072,000 km2[11][12][note 5] Surface area 148,940,000 km2 land (29.2 %) 361,132,000 km2 water (70.8 %) 1.08321×1012 km3[3] 5.9736×1024 kg[3] 5.515 g/cm3[3] 9.780327 m/s2[13] 0.99732 g 11.186 km/s[3] 0.99726968 d[14] 23h 56m 4.100s 1,674.4 km/h (465.1 m/s)[15] 23°26'21".4119[2] 0.367 (geometric)[3] 0.306 (Bond)[3]

Volume Mass Mean density Equatorial surface gravity Escape velocity Sidereal rotation period Equatorial rotation velocity Axial tilt Albedo Surface temp. Kelvin Celsius min mean max 184 K[16]287.2 K[17]331 K[18] -89.2 °C 14 °C 57.8 °C Surface pressure Composition

Atmosphere 101.325 kPa (MSL) 78.08% nitrogen (N2)[3] 20.95% oxygen (O2) 0.93% argon

0.038% carbon dioxide About 1% water vapor (varies with climate) Earth (or the Earth) is the third planet from the Sun and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets. It is sometimes referred to as the World, the Blue Planet,[19] or by its Latin name, Terra.[note 6] Home to millions of species including humans, Earth is currently the only astronomical body where life is known to exist.[20] The planet formed 4.54 billion years ago, and life appeared on its surface within a billion years.[21] Earth's biosphere has significantly altered the atmosphere and other abiotic conditions on the planet, enabling the proliferation of aerobic organisms as well as the formation of the ozone layer which, together with Earth's magnetic field, blocks harmful solar radiation, permitting life on land.[22] The physical properties of the Earth, as well as its geological history and orbit, have allowed life to persist during this period. The planet is expected to continue supporting life for at least another 500 million years.[23][24] Earth's outer surface is divided into several rigid segments, or tectonic plates, that migrate across the surface over periods of many millions of years. About 71% of the surface is covered with salt water oceans, the remainder consisting of continents and islands which together have many lakes and other sources of water contributing to the hydrosphere. Liquid water, necessary for all known life, is not known to exist in equilibrium on any other planet's surface.[note 7] Earth's poles are mostly covered with solid ice (Antarctic ice sheet) or sea ice (Arctic ice cap). The planet's interior remains active, with a thick layer of relatively solid mantle, a liquid outer core that generates a magnetic field, and a solid iron inner core. Earth interacts with other objects in space, especially the Sun and the Moon. At present, Earth orbits the Sun once every 366.26 times it rotates about its own axis, which is equal to 365.26 solar days, or one sidereal year.[note 8] The Earth's axis of rotation is tilted 23.4° away from the perpendicular of its orbital plane, producing seasonal variations on the planet's surface with a period of one tropical year (365.24 solar days).[25] Earth's only known natural satellite, the Moon, which began orbiting it about 4.53 billion years ago, provides ocean tides, stabilizes the axial tilt and gradually slows the planet's rotation. Between approximately 3.8 billion and 4.1 billion years ago, numerous asteroid impacts during the Late Heavy Bombardment caused significant changes to the greater surface environment. Both the mineral resources of the planet, as well as the products of the biosphere, contribute resources that are used to support a global human population. These inhabitants are grouped into about 200 independent sovereign states, which interact through diplomacy, travel, trade, and military action. Human cultures have developed many views of the planet, including personification as a deity, a belief in a flat Earth or in the Earth as the center of the universe, and a modern perspective of the world as an integrated environment that requires stewardship.

1 . 1 E v o l u t i o n o f l i f e 1 . 2 F u t u r e 2 Compo sition and structur e 2 .Contents  [hide]1 Chrono logy 1 .

Rodinia. Condensing water vapor. preventing the oceans from freezing over.5672 ± 0. The incorporation of smaller cells within larger ones resulted in the development of complex cells called eukaryotes. comets.[32] The newly formed Sun was only 70% of its present luminosity. but enough material would have been sent into orbit to coalesce into the Moon.5 billion years ago.[45] True multicellular organisms formed as cells within colonies became increasingly specialized.[27] Initially molten.[44] The development of photosynthesis allowed the Sun's energy to be harvested directly by life forms. the Earth's magnetic field was established. Earth provides the only example of an environment that has given rise to the evolution of life. in which the Moon was created when a Mars-sized object (sometimes called Theia) with about 10% of the Earth's mass[30] impacted the Earth in a glancing blow.[39][40][41] On time scales lasting hundreds of millions of years.[34] Two major models have been proposed for the rate of continental growth:[35] steady growth to the present-day[36] and rapid growth early in Earth history. augmented by ice and liquid water delivered by asteroids and the larger proto-planets.53 billion years ago. Roughly 750 million years ago (Ma). Outgassing and volcanic activity produced the primordial atmosphere of the Earth. 4.[43] Highly energetic chemistry is believed to have produced a self-replicating molecule around 4 billion years ago and half a billion years later the last common ancestor of all life existed. life colonized the surface of Earth. and trans-Neptunian objects produced the oceans. the outer layer of the planet Earth cooled to form a solid crust when water began accumulating in the atmosphere.Chronology Main article: History of the Earth See also: Geological history of Earth Scientists have been able to reconstruct detailed information about the planet's past.[28] The current consensus model[29] for the formation of the Moon is the giant impact hypothesis. with rapid initial growth of continental crust[38] followed by a long-term steady continental area.[26] and by 4. it has been hypothesized that severe glacial action between 750 and 580 Ma. which broke apart 180 Ma. then finally Pangaea. which helped prevent the atmosphere from being stripped away by the solar wind. This assembly of the Earth through accretion was thus largely completed within 10–20 million years. Aided by the absorption of harmful ultraviolet radiation by the ozone layer. one of the earliest known supercontinents. occasionally combining to form a supercontinent. began to break apart.[46] Since the 1960s. The continents migrated across the surface.0006 billion years ago.[31] In this model. The continents later recombined to form Pannotia. A combination of greenhouse gases and higher levels of solar activity served to raise the Earth's surface temperature.54 billion years ago (within an uncertainty of 1%)[21] the Earth and the other planets in the Solar System had formed out of the solar nebula—a disk-shaped mass of dust and gas left over from the formation of the Sun. 600–540 Ma.[33] By 3. some of this object's mass would have merged with the Earth and a portion would have been ejected into space. during . yet evidence shows that the early oceans remained liquid—a contradiction dubbed the faint young Sun paradox.[42] Evolution of life Main article: Evolutionary history of life At present. The earliest dated Solar System material was formed 4.[37] Current research shows that the second option is most likely. the surface continually reshaped as continents formed and broke up. the resultant oxygen accumulated in the atmosphere and formed a layer of ozone (a form of molecular oxygen [O3]) in the upper atmosphere. The Moon formed shortly thereafter.

000. The Earth is expected to be effectively habitable for about another 500 million years from that point. including the loss of the planet's oceans. The luminosity of the Sun will grow by 10% over the next 1. when multicellular life forms began to proliferate. the continued internal cooling of the Earth would result in a loss of much of its CO2 due to reduced volcanism. This hypothesis has been termed "Snowball Earth". so. The lack of vegetation will result in the loss of oxygen in the atmosphere.the Neoproterozoic.[50] affecting both the nature and quantity of other life forms. The development of agriculture.[57] The Sun.000 km).[52][58] Earth's fate is less clear.7 AU (250.1 billion years) and by 40% over the next 3. causing it to enter the red giant Sun's atmosphere and be vaporized. about 535 Ma. High-latitude regions have since undergone repeated cycles of glaciation and thaw.5 Gyr.[55] Even if the Sun were eternal and stable. though most. Models predict that the Sun will expand out to about 250 times its present radius.[48] The most recent such event was 65 Ma.[58] .3 billion years if the nitrogen is removed from the atmosphere. reducing its concentration to levels lethally low for plants (10 ppm for C4 photosynthesis) in approximately 500 million[23] to 900 million years.[51] Future Main article: Future of the Earth See also: Risks to civilization.1 Gyr (1. without tidal effects. a 2008 simulation indicates that Earth's orbit will decay due to tidal effects and drag. covered much of the planet in a sheet of ice. As a red giant. The last continental glaciation ended 10.[52] However. The present pattern of ice ages began about 40 Ma and then intensified during the Pleistocene about 3 Ma. will become a red giant in about 5 Gyr. when an asteroid impact triggered the extinction of the (nonavian) dinosaurs and other large reptiles. the Sun will lose roughly 30% of its mass. humans and planet Earth The life cycle of the Sun The future of the planet is closely tied to that of the Sun. roughly 1 AU (150.[23] although this may be extended up to 2.000 years.[52] Climate models indicate that the rise in radiation reaching the Earth is likely to have dire consequences. The planet was therefore initially expected to escape envelopment by the expanded Sun's sparse outer atmosphere. the Earth will move to an orbit 1. but spared some small animals such as mammals. if not all.[49] This enabled tool use and encouraged communication that provided the nutrition and stimulation needed for a larger brain.[47] Following the Cambrian explosion. which then resembled shrews.[54] After another billion years all surface water will have disappeared[24] and the mean global temperature will reach 70 °C[54] (158 °F).000.000 km) from the Sun when the star reaches it maximum radius. repeating every 40–100. Over the past 65 million years. as part of its evolution. and is of particular interest because it preceded the Cambrian explosion. there have been five major mass extinctions. and then civilization.[53] The Earth's increasing surface temperature will accelerate the inorganic CO2 cycle. remaining life would have been destroyed by the Sun's increased luminosity (peaking at about 5000 times its present level). which allowed the evolution of the human race. allowed humans to influence the Earth in a short time span as no other life form had.[56] and 35% of the water in the oceans would descend to the mantle due to reduced steam venting from mid-ocean ridges. the star's total luminosity will slowly increase. and several million years ago an African ape-like animal such as Orrorin tugenensis gained the ability to stand upright. so animal life will become extinct within several million more years. mammalian life has diversified.000 years ago. As a result of the steady accumulation of helium at the Sun's core.

2% 2.4% 2.2% 16. or 0.000 of the distance from the equator to the North Pole through Paris.[59] It also is the only terrestrial planet with active plate tectonics. a sphere flattened along the axis from pole to pole such that there is a bulge around the equator.742 km.2% 48.6% 12. the surface locations farthest from the center of the Earth are the summits of Mount Chimborazo in Ecuador and Huascarán in Peru.[60] Shape Main article: Figure of the Earth Size comparison of inner planets (left to right): Mercury.5% CaO MgO FeO Na2O K2O Fe2O3 H2O CO2 TiO2 P2O5 5.[64] The largest local deviations in the rocky surface of the Earth are Mount Everest (8848 m above local sea level) and the Mariana Trench (10. meaning that it is a rocky body.3% 6.3% 99. as the meter was originally defined as 1/10. these deviations are very small: Earth has a tolerance of about one part in about 584.2% 99.22% tolerance allowed in billiard balls.6% Al2O3 15. and causes the diameter at the equator to be 43 km larger than the pole to pole diameter.8% 3. Because of the equatorial bulge.5% 3.[63] Local topography deviates from this idealized spheroid.[61] This bulge results from the rotation of the Earth.8% 2.4% 0. though on a global scale.7% 0. rather than a gas giant like Jupiter.[62] The average diameter of the reference spheroid is about 12. Earth also has the highest density.[65] [66][67] Chemical composition of the crust[68] Composition Formula Continental Oceanic SiO2 60.17%.6% 0. the strongest magnetic field. Of these four planets.0% 2.8% 6.9% Compound silica alumina lime magnesia iron(II) oxide sodium oxide potassium oxide iron(III) oxide water carbon dioxide titanium dioxide phosphorus pentoxide Total .000 km/π.000.911 m below local sea level). France. Earth and Mars The shape of the Earth is very close to that of an oblate spheroid.Composition and structure Main article: Earth science Further information: Earth physical characteristics tables Earth is a terrestrial planet.4% 1.1% 3.5% 1.3% 1. and fastest rotation. which is less than the 0.1% 1.4% 1. which is approximately 40. from the reference spheroid.2% 0. It is the largest of the four solar terrestrial planets in size and mass. the highest surface gravity. Venus.

is divided into layers by their chemical or physical (rheological) properties.8–13. chlorine.4 Mantle 3. with the remaining 1.4–4. sulfur and fluorine are the only important exceptions to this and their total amount in any rock is usually much less than 1%.5%).8%).2% consisting of trace amounts of other elements.1%). All the other constituents occur only in very small quantities. oxygen (30. top of the upper mantle are collectively known as the lithosphere.672 analyses of all kinds of rocks. and the thickness of the crust varies: averaging 6 km under the oceans and 30–50 km on the continents. W. lime.1%). rigid.2 Inner core 12. 5100–6378 Density g/cm3 Lithosphere[note 9] — Crust[note 10] 2. the core region is believed to be primarily composed of iron (88. potash and soda. spanning a transition zone that separates the upper and lower mantle. a relatively low-viscosity layer on which the lithosphere rides. it has a distinct outer and inner core. with smaller amounts of nickel (5. Important changes in crystal structure within the mantle occur at 410 and 660 kilometers below the surface. The more common rock constituents of the Earth's crust are nearly all oxides. Clarke calculated that a little more than 47% of the Earth's crust consists of oxygen.[69] The geochemist F. sulfur (4. magnesium (13. The principal oxides are silica. magnesia.4–5. but unlike the other terrestrial planets.9 Upper mantle 3. It is composed mostly of iron (32.5%). which is underlain by a highly viscous solid mantle.98×1024 kg. calcium (1.[71] The inner core may rotate at a slightly higher angular velocity than the remainder of the planet. From a computation based on 1. and all the commonest minerals of igneous rocks are of this nature.1–0. an extremely low viscosity liquid outer core lies above a solid inner core. silicon (15.9–12. sulfur (2. Clarke deduced that 99.5° per year.8%). and aluminium (1.8%).22% were composed of 11 oxides (see the table at right). Not to scale.1%).9%). nickel (1. advancing by 0. The crust and the cold.6 Asthenosphere — Outer core 9. alumina. forming silicates.[72] Geologic layers of the Earth[73] Depth[74] km 0–60 0–35 35–60 35–2890 100–700 2890–5100 Earth cutaway from core to exosphere. The outer layer of the Earth is a chemically distinct silicate solid crust.1 Component Layer Heat Earth's internal heat comes from a combination of residual heat from planetary accretion (about 20%) . The crust is separated from the mantle by the Mohorovičić discontinuity. and less than 1% trace elements. Beneath the mantle.[70] Internal structure Main article: Structure of the Earth The interior of the Earth. like that of the other terrestrial planets. iron oxides. Due to mass segregation.2–2.9%). Beneath the lithosphere is the asthenosphere. and it is of the lithosphere that the tectonic plates are comprised.4%). The silica functions principally as an acid.Chemical composition See also: Abundance of elements on Earth The mass of the Earth is approximately 5.

and thorium-232.9 South American Plate 43. and allowing the production of igneous rocks such as komatiites that are not formed today.22 × 10−9 1.[77] Because much of the heat is provided by radioactive decay. in which two plates slide past one another laterally. uranium-238. the lithosphere. These plumes can produce hotspots and flood basalts.000 K and the pressure could reach 360 GPa. and oceanic trench formation can occur along these plate boundaries.[78] Present-day major heat-producing isotopes[79] Half-life Heat release Mean mantle concentration Heat release Isotope W/kg isotope kg isotope/kg mantle W/kg mantle years 238U 9. This extra heat production. the majority of which occurs in the oceans because the crust there is much thinner than that of the continents.91 × 10−12 235U 5.0 Antarctic Plate 60.08 × 10−12 The mean heat loss from the Earth is 87 mW m−2.64 × 10−5 1.92 × 10−5 1.9 × 10−9 1. at which two plates come together.[82] Tectonic plates Earth's main plates[83] Area 106 km2 African Plate[note 11] 78.[85] and their .42 × 1013 W. is broken into pieces called tectonic plates. uranium-235. The final major mode of heat loss is through conduction through the lithosphere.3 Main article: Plate tectonics Plate name The mechanically rigid outer layer of the Earth.[76] At the center of the planet.25 × 109 36. before isotopes with short half-lives had been depleted.[81] More of the heat in the Earth is lost through plate tectonics.[84] The tectonic plates ride on top of the asthenosphere. scientists believe that early in Earth history. a form of convection consisting of upwellings of higher-temperature rock.[75] The major heat-producing isotopes in the Earth are potassium-40.69 × 10−4 7. mountain-building. by mantle upwelling associated with mid-ocean ridges.8 × 10−9 2.47 × 109 30. These plates are rigid segments that move in relation to one another at one of three types of plate boundaries: Convergent boundaries. the solid but less-viscous part of the upper mantle that can flow and move along with the plates. and Transform boundaries.6 Pacific Plate 103.2 Eurasian Plate 67. increasing the rates of mantle convection and plate tectonics.27 × 10−12 40K 2.46 × 10−5 4.9 Indo-Australian Plate 47.25 × 10−13 232Th 2. Earth's heat production would have been much higher.40 × 1010 124 × 10−9 3.[75] would have increased temperature gradients within the Earth. the temperature may be up to 7.[80] A portion of the core's thermal energy is transported toward the crust by mantle plumes.04 × 108 0. for a global heat loss of 4. volcanic activity. at which two plates are pulled apart.and heat produced through radioactive decay (80%). Earthquakes. twice present-day at approximately 3 billion years ago.8 North American Plate 75. Divergent boundaries.

The surface features built up or deformed through plate tectonics are subject to steady weathering from precipitation.[88] Other notable plates include the Indian Plate. At the same time. plains. The most abundant silicate minerals on the Earth's surface include quartz. The Australian Plate fused with the Indian Plate between 50 and 55 million years ago.[96] The pedosphere is the outermost layer of the Earth that is composed of soil and subject to soil formation processes. The continental crust consists of lower density material such as the igneous rocks granite and andesite. The planetary surface undergoes reshaping over geological time periods because of tectonics and erosion.848 m at the top of Mount Everest. oceanic plateaus and abyssal plains. The fastest-moving plates are the oceanic plates. pyroxene and olivine. the build-up of coral reefs.8%[91] of the surface is covered by water. the slowest-moving plate is the Eurasian Plate. the Arabian Plate. mica. including a globe-spanning mid-ocean ridge system.[93] Sedimentary rock is formed from the accumulation of sediment that becomes compacted together. Data from the National Geophysical Data Center's TerrainBase Digital Terrain Model. most of the ocean floor is less than 100 million years in age.[94] The third form of rock material found on Earth is metamorphic rock. deserts.motion is strongly coupled with convection patterns inside the Earth's mantle. with only 4.31% of the land surface. with much of the continental shelf below sea level. thermal cycles. to a 2005-estimated maximum altitude of 8.2% not covered by water consists of mountains. progressing at a typical rate of about 21 mm/yr. the Caribbean Plate. The remaining 29.71% supporting permanent crops.[86][87] By comparison. atmosphere. with the Cocos Plate advancing at a rate of 75 mm/yr[89] and the Pacific Plate moving 52–69 mm/yr. and chemical effects. and has an estimated age of about 200 million years. coastal erosion. Present day Earth altimetry and bathymetry. the oldest dated continental crust is 4030 million years old. as well as undersea volcanoes. Currently the total arable land is 13. As the tectonic plates migrate across the planet. or both. The submerged surface has mountainous features. the feldspars.[62] oceanic trenches. Glaciation.3×107 km2 of cropland and 3. At the other extreme. hydrosphere and biosphere. or an estimated 1. submarine canyons. and other geomorphologies. and large meteorite impacts[92] also act to reshape the landscape. About 70.4×107 km2 of pastureland.[90] Surface Main articles: Landform and Extreme points of Earth The Earth's terrain varies greatly from place to place. which is created from the transformation of pre-existing rock types through high pressures. plateaus. although they form only about 5% of the crust. high temperatures. The oldest oceanic crust is located in the Western Pacific. The combination of these processes continually recycles the oceanic crust back into the mantle. amphibole. the Nazca Plate off the west coast of South America and the Scotia Plate in the southern Atlantic Ocean. It exists at the interface of the lithosphere. Because of this recycling. the upwelling of mantle material at divergent boundaries creates mid-ocean ridges. a denser volcanic rock that is the primary constituent of the ocean floors. the ocean floor is subducted under the leading edges of the plates at convergent boundaries. Less common is basalt.[95] Common carbonate minerals include calcite (found in limestone) and dolomite.[12] Close to 40% of the Earth's land surface is presently used for cropland and pasture.[97] The elevation of the land surface of the Earth varies from the low point of −418 m at the Dead Sea. Nearly 75% of the continental surfaces are covered by sedimentary rocks. The mean height of land .

and underground waters down to a depth of 2.[101] The average salinity of the Earth's oceans is about 35 grams of salt per kilogram of sea water (35 ‰).[91] Weather and climate Main articles: Weather and Climate Satellite cloud cover image of Earth using NASA's Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer. [102] Most of this salt was released from volcanic activity or extracted from cool. thereby raising the average temperature. Without this heat-retention effect.4 m.[98] Hydrosphere Main article: Hydrosphere Elevation histogram of the surface of the Earth The abundance of water on Earth's surface is a unique feature that distinguishes the "Blue Planet" from others in the Solar System.[note 12][99] The mass of the oceans is approximately 1.[note 13] About 97.5% is fresh water.7 billion years ago. providing useful gases. forming the primarily nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere of today. with some variation resulting from weather and seasonal factors.332×109 km3. with a scale height of about 8. but technically includes all water surfaces in the world. with the oceans acting as a large heat reservoir. causing small meteors to burn up before they strike the surface.5% of the water is saline.682 m. igneous rocks. is currently ice. with trace amounts of water vapor.[107] Earth's biosphere has significantly altered its atmosphere. while the remaining 2. The height of the troposphere varies with latitude. or about 1/4400 of the total mass of the Earth.35×1018 metric tons. including inland seas. resulting in an estimated volume of 1. . permitting life on land. carbon dioxide and other gaseous molecules.[104] Sea water has an important influence on the world's climate. This change enabled the proliferation of aerobic organisms as well as the formation of the ozone layer which blocks ultraviolet solar radiation.5 km.[103] The oceans are also a reservoir of dissolved atmospheric gases.911. water would rise to an altitude of more than 2.000 m. which are essential for the survival of many aquatic life forms. lakes. such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. water vapor.325 kPa.[106] Atmosphere Main article: Atmosphere of Earth The atmospheric pressure on the surface of the Earth averages 101. and moderating temperature. methane and ozone are the primary greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere. about 68.[105] Shifts in the oceanic temperature distribution can cause significant weather shifts. Most fresh water. Other atmospheric functions important to life on Earth include transporting water vapor.above sea level is 840 m. The oceans cover an area of 3. Carbon dioxide.7 km. The Earth's hydrosphere consists chiefly of the oceans.7%.[100] If all the land on Earth were spread evenly.618×108 km2 with a mean depth of 3. the average surface temperature would be −18 °C and life would likely not exist.[3] It is 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen.[108] This last phenomenon is known as the greenhouse effect: trace molecules within the atmosphere serve to capture thermal energy emitted from the ground. Oxygenic photosynthesis evolved 2. ranging between 8 km at the poles to 17 km at the equator. The deepest underwater location is Challenger Deep of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean with a depth of −10. rivers.

the exosphere thins out into the magnetosphere. particularly the thermohaline circulation that distributes heat energy from the equatorial oceans to the polar regions.[117] The leakage of hydrogen into space contributes to the pushing of the Earth from an .[114] Climate can also be classified based on the temperature and precipitation. This results in a slow but steady leakage of the atmosphere into space. This lowest layer is called the troposphere. humid middle latitudes. The Kármán line.4°C per per degree of latitude away from the equator. This water cycle is a vital mechanism for supporting life on land. Ranging from the equator to the polar regions.[112] The amount of solar energy reaching the Earth's decreases with increasing latitude. At higher latitudes the sunlight reaches the surface at a lower angles and it must pass through thicker columns of the atmosphere. it can achieve escape velocity more readily and it leaks into outer space at a greater rate than other gasses. Because unfixed hydrogen has a low molecular weight. Precipitation patterns vary widely. a component that partially shields the surface from ultraviolet light and thus is important for life on Earth.[109] 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°. ranging from several meters of water per year to less than a millimeter. these are the tropical (or equatorial). continental and cold polar).[110] Ocean currents are also important factors in determining climate. slowly becoming thinner and fading into outer space. This lower density air then rises. Energy from the Sun heats this layer. is a working definition for the boundary between atmosphere and space. higher density air. humid air. The result is atmospheric circulation that drives the weather and climate through redistribution of heat energy. the atmosphere is usually divided into the stratosphere. the mean annual air temperature at sea level decreases by about 0. Three-quarters of the atmosphere's mass is contained within the first 11 km of the planet's surface. arid. temperate and polar climates. subtropical. and is replaced by cooler. topological features and temperature differences determine the average precipitation that falls in each region. and the surface below. defining the rate of change in temperature with height. with the climate regions characterized by fairly uniform air masses. NASA image. causing expansion of the air.[109] Most of the water is then transported to lower elevations by river systems and usually returned to the oceans or deposited into lakes. mesosphere.[113] The Earth can be sub-divided into specific latitudinal belts of approximately homogeneous climate. this water condenses and settles to the surface as precipitation. and is a primary factor in the erosion of surface features over geological periods. See also: Outer space Above the troposphere. Beyond these. Atmospheric circulation. and thermosphere.The Earth's atmosphere has no definite boundary.[116] Thermal energy causes some of the molecules at the outer edge of the Earth's atmosphere have their velocity increased to the point where they can escape from the planet's gravity.[115] Within the stratosphere is the ozone layer. where the Earth's magnetic fields interact with the solar wind.[110] Upper atmosphere This view from orbit shows the full Moon partially obscured and deformed by the Earth's atmosphere. As a result. When atmospheric conditions permit an uplift of warm. which are further divided into more specific subtypes.[108] Each layer has a different lapse rate. defined as 100 km above the Earth's surface. The commonly used Köppen climate classification system (as modified by Wladimir Köppen's student Rudolph Geiger) has five broad groups (humid tropics.[111] Water vapor generated through surface evaporation is transported by circulatory patterns in the atmosphere.

The sunward edge of the bow shock is located at about 13 times the radius of the Earth. The most recent reversal occurred approximately 700.09053083288 seconds of mean solar time (UT1) (23h 56m 4.[2] Thus the sidereal day is shorter than the stellar day by about 8. The convection movements in the core are chaotic.initially reducing state to its current oxidizing one. a pair of concentric.[120] Magnetic field Schematic of Earth's magnetosphere.[122][123] The field forms the magnetosphere. or 23h 56m 4. the magnetic field strength at the planet's surface is 3.0025 SI seconds). misnamed its sidereal day. is 86164. oxygen-rich atmosphere most hydrogen is converted into water before it has an opportunity to escape. These in turn produce the Earth's magnetic field. [119] In the current.[126][127] Earth's rotation period relative to the fixed stars.[2][note 14] Earth's rotation period relative to the precessing or moving mean vernal equinox. Photosynthesis provided a source of free oxygen. is 86164.[125] As the Earth's solar day is now slightly longer than it was during the 19th century because of tidal acceleration. torus-shaped regions of energetic charged particles. the magnetic poles drift and periodically change alignment.05 × 10−5 T.[124] Orbit and rotation Rotation Main article: Earth's rotation Earth's axial tilt (or obliquity) and its relation to the rotation axis and plane of orbit.[128] The length of the mean solar day in SI seconds is available from the IERS for the periods 1623–2005[129] and 1962–2005. with the poles currently located proximate to the planet's geographic poles.000 years ago.[121] According to dynamo theory. Instead. The collision between the magnetic field and the solar wind forms the Van Allen radiation belts. The solar wind flows from left to right Main article: Earth's magnetic field The Earth's magnetic field is shaped roughly as a magnetic dipole.91 × 1015 T m3. At the equator of the magnetic field. When the plasma enters the Earth's atmosphere at the magnetic poles. This results in field reversals at irregular intervals averaging a few times every million years. called its stellar day by the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS).098903691 seconds of mean solar time (UT1). each day varies between 0 and 2 SI ms longer. generating electric currents.098903691s.4 ms. most of the hydrogen loss comes from the destruction of methane in the upper atmosphere. it forms the aurora. the main apparent motion of celestial bodies in the Earth's sky is to the west at a rate of 15°/h = 15'/min.[130] Apart from meteors within the atmosphere and low-orbiting satellites. with global magnetic dipole moment of 7.[118] Hence the ability of hydrogen to escape from the Earth's atmosphere may have influenced the nature of life that developed on the planet. For bodies near the celestial . which deflects particles in the solar wind. Earth's rotation period relative to the Sun—its mean solar day—is 86.09053083288s).400 seconds of mean solar time (86.400. but the loss of reducing agents such as hydrogen is believed to have been a necessary precondition for the widespread accumulation of oxygen in the atmosphere. the field is generated within the molten outer core region where heat creates convection motions of conducting materials.

the Earth can be seen to go through phases similar to the phases of the Moon. Because of this motion. It is currently about 20 light years above the galaxy's equatorial plane in the Orion spiral arm. the climate becomes generally cooler and the days shorter. and the Earth–Moon plane is tilted about 5 degrees against the Earth-Sun plane. on average it takes 24 hours—a solar day—for Earth to complete a full rotation about its axis so that the Sun returns to the meridian. there would be an eclipse every two weeks. orbiting about 28. In the southern hemisphere the situation is exactly reversed.000 km) in four hours. this is equivalent to an apparent diameter of the Sun or Moon every two minutes. Earth and Moon from Mars.5 Gm (or 1. Objects must orbit the Earth within this radius.32 days relative to the background stars.[135] Axial tilt and seasons Main article: Axial tilt Because of the axial tilt of the Earth.500. The orbital and axial planes are not precisely aligned: Earth's axis is tilted some 23.[131][132] Orbit Main article: Earth's orbit Earth orbits the Sun at an average distance of about 150 million kilometers every 365. From space. the Moon and their axial rotations are all counter-clockwise.000 kilometers) in radius. the period of the synodic month. an extreme case is reached where there is no daylight at all for part of the year—a polar night. the amount of sunlight reaching any given point on the surface varies over the course of the year. with the South Pole oriented opposite the direction of the North Pole. along with the Solar System. the apparent sizes of the Sun and the Moon are approximately the same. imaged by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Illustration of the Milky Way Galaxy. which is fast enough to cover the planet's diameter (about 12. the motion of Earth. When combined with the Earth–Moon system's common revolution around the Sun. and the distance to the Moon (384. This results in seasonal change in climate.[3][133] The Hill sphere. this gives an apparent movement of the Sun eastward with respect to the stars at a rate of about 1°/day. Above the Arctic Circle. alternating between lunar eclipses and solar eclipses. . In winter. The orbital speed of the Earth averages about 30 km/s (108. from new moon to new moon. showing the location of the Sun Earth. and winter taking place when the pole is pointed away.2564 mean solar days.[3] The Moon revolves with the Earth around a common barycenter every 27. the day lasts longer and the Sun climbs higher in the sky. Without this tilt. or one sidereal year. with summer in the northern hemisphere occurring when the North Pole is pointing toward the Sun. Viewed from the celestial north pole. the Earth appears to revolve in a counterclockwise direction about the Sun.000 light years from the center of the galaxy. During the summer. From Earth.600 km) in seven minutes. of the Earth is about 1. or they can become unbound by the gravitational perturbation of the Sun.000 km/h).[134][note 15] This is maximum distance at which the Earth's gravitational influence is stronger than the more distant Sun and planets. from the planet's surface. or a Sun or Moon diameter every 12 hours.53 days.5 degrees from the perpendicular to the Earth–Sun plane.equator. Viewed from a vantage point above the north poles of both the Sun and the Earth. is situated in the Milky Way galaxy. or gravitational sphere of influence. is 29.

cyclical components. this precession is the reason for the difference between a sidereal year and a tropical year. The natural satellites orbiting other planets are called "moons" after Earth's Moon. the Moon recedes from Earth at the rate of approximately 38 mm a year. there is a 14-month cycle called the Chandler wobble. Winter Solstice occurs on about December 21. planet-like satellite. when the direction of the tilt and the direction to the Sun are perpendicular. From the perspective of the Earth. However. the tilt does undergo nutation. Summer Solstice is near June 21. and most of the excess energy is absorbed by the higher proportion of water in the southern hemisphere. which collectively are termed quasiperiodic motion. this effect is much less significant than the total energy change due to the axial tilt. leading to the lunar phases.400 km Orbital period 27 d 7 h 43. However. In addition to an annual component to this motion. In the Southern hemisphere.9% [note 16] in solar energy reaching the Earth at perihelion relative to aphelion. the southern hemisphere receives slightly more energy from the Sun than does the northern over the course of a year.8 km Mass 7. The same effect on the Moon has led to its tidal locking: its rotation period is the same as the time it takes to orbit the Earth. The gravitational attraction between the Earth and Moon causes tides on Earth. it always presents the same face to the planet. The rotational velocity of the Earth also varies in a phenomenon known as length of day variation.6 years.7 m Main article: Moon The Moon is a relatively large. The changing Earth-Sun distance results in an increase of about 6. precessing around in a complete circle over each 25. these tiny modifications—and the lengthening of Earth's day by about 23 . although Charon is larger relative to the dwarf planet Pluto. It is the largest moon in the Solar System relative to the size of its planet. different parts of its face are illuminated by the Sun.[138] In modern times. As a result. the dark part of the face is separated from the light part by the solar terminator. the four seasons are determined by the solstices—the point in the orbit of maximum axial tilt toward or away from the Sun—and the equinoxes. Because of their tidal interaction. Earth's perihelion occurs around January 3. In the northern hemisphere. As the Moon orbits Earth. However.474.800 year cycle. This polar motion has multiple. these dates change over time due to precession and other orbital factors.[139] Moon Characteristics Diameter 3.By astronomical convention.349×1022 kg Semi-major axis 384. with a diameter about one-quarter of the Earth's. Spring Equinox is around March 20 and Autumnal Equinox is about September 23. terrestrial. the situation is reversed. irregular motion with a main period of 18. Both of these motions are caused by the varying attraction of the Sun and Moon on the Earth's equatorial bulge. Since the southern hemisphere is tilted toward the Sun at about the same time that the Earth reaches the closest approach to the Sun. which follow cyclical patterns known as Milankovitch cycles.[136] The angle of the Earth's tilt is relatively stable over long periods of time. and the aphelion around July 4. a slight. the poles also migrate a few meters across the surface.[137] The orientation (rather than the angle) of the Earth's axis also changes over time. Over millions of years. with the Summer and Winter Solstices exchanged and the Spring and Autumnal Equinox dates switched.

[143] Viewed from Earth. The most widely accepted theory of the Moon's origin. and sufficient energy to sustain metabolism. at high altitudes or in extremely arid areas are relatively barren of plant and animal life. the radius to the Earth-Moon barycenter is shown. inhabited by broadly similar plants and animals. species diversity reaches a peak in humid lowlands at equatorial latitudes. 3753 Cruithne and 2002 AA29.[144] Earth has at least two co-orbital asteroids.[148] . The Moon's axis is located by Cassini's third law. The Earth provides the (currently understood) requisite conditions of liquid water. [141] Details of the Earth-Moon system. Paleontological evidence and computer simulations show that Earth's axial tilt is stabilized by tidal interactions with the Moon.8 hours.[147] Biosphere Main article: Biosphere The planet's life forms are sometimes said to form a "biosphere". as appears to be the case for Mars. The angular size (or solid angle) of these two bodies match because.[146] The distance of the Earth from the Sun. Data from NASA. as well as its orbital eccentricity. even if life did not originate there. This biosphere is generally believed to have begun evolving about 3.[145] A scale representation of the relative sizes of. the Moon is just far enough away to have very nearly the same apparent-sized disk as the Sun. biomes are separated primarily by differences in latitude.5 billion years ago. The biosphere is divided into a number of biomes. (approximately 410 million years ago) there were 400 days in a year. states that it formed from the collision of a Mars-size protoplanet called Theia with the early Earth. the giant impact theory.[140] During the Devonian period. sustaining atmosphere and protective magnetic field all contribute to the conditions believed necessary to originate and sustain life on this planet. exhibiting chaotic changes over millions of years. an environment where complex organic molecules can assemble. the rotational axis might be chaotically unstable.[142] Some theorists believe that without this stabilization against the torques applied by the Sun and planets to the Earth's equatorial bulge. although the Sun's diameter is about 400 times as large as the Moon's. and average distance between. axial tilt. Terrestrial biomes lying within the Arctic or Antarctic Circles. with each day lasting 21. height above sea level and humidity.µs a year—add up to significant changes. The Moon may have dramatically affected the development of life by moderating the planet's climate. it is also 400 times more distant. On land. and the fact that its composition is nearly identical to that of the Earth's crust. Earth and Moon Habitability See also: Planetary habitability A planet that can sustain life is termed habitable. for example. This hypothesis explains (among other things) the Moon's relative lack of iron and volatile elements. rate of rotation.[132] This allows total and annular solar eclipses to occur on Earth. Photos from NASA. Besides the radius of each object. geological history. Earth is the only place where life is known to exist.

Mineral ore bodies have also been formed in Earth's crust through a process of Ore genesis. have developed alongside cartography and geography. and the oceanic ecosystem depends upon dissolved nutrients washed down from the land. deforestation.250 km2. and other calamities and disasters. and introduction of invasive species. loss of wildlife. Many places are subject to earthquakes.803. Some of these are non-renewable resources. have historically been the disciplines devoted to depicting the Earth. consisting of coal.2 billion in 2050. blizzards. tornadoes. wood. . soil depletion. loss of vegetation (overgrazing. erosion.000.[12] Natural and environmental hazards Large areas of the Earth's surface are subject to extreme weather such as tropical cyclones. 2009. or typhoons that dominate life in those areas. significant changes in weather and a global rise in average sea levels. species extinction. natural gas and methane clathrate.Natural resources and land use Main article: Natural resource The Earth provides resources that are exploitable by humans for useful purposes. According to the United Nations.[151] Human geography Main article: Human geography See also: World Cartography. In 1993. the study and practice of map making. droughts. pharmaceuticals. more extreme temperature ranges. the determination of position and direction.5% Other 30% 13.[152] Projections indicate that the world's human population will reach seven billion in 2013 and 9. acid rain and toxic substances. and vicariously geography. Surveying. petroleum.71%[12] 26% ] The estimated amount of irrigated land in 1993 was 2. The Earth's biosphere produces many useful biological products for humans. floods. a scientific consensus exists linking human activities to global warming due to industrial carbon dioxide emissions. Large deposits of fossil fuels are obtained from the Earth's crust. and to a lesser extent navigation. hurricanes. such as mineral fuels. sinkholes. the determination of locations and distances. landslides. oxygen.[150] Humans also live on the land by using building materials to construct shelters. resulting from actions of erosion and plate tectonics. desertification). Many localized areas are subject to human-made pollution of the air and water. tsunamis.481.13%[12 4. Earth has approximately 6. providing and suitably quantifying the requisite information. These deposits are used by humans both for energy production and as feedstock for chemical production. This is predicted to produce changes such as the melting of glaciers and ice sheets. volcanic eruptions. soil degradation. including (but far from limited to) food. and the recycling of many organic wastes.[149] These bodies form concentrated sources for many metals and other useful elements.000 human inhabitants as of December 12. that are difficult to replenish on a short time scale. The landbased ecosystem depends upon topsoil and fresh water. human use of land is approximately: Land use Arable land Percentage Permanent crops Permanent pastures Forests and woodland 32% Urban areas 1.

[167] The standard astronomical symbol of the Earth consists of a cross circumscribed by a circle. In addition. By 2020.[169] Earth has often been personified as a deity. This image is not photographic and many features are brighter than they would appear to a direct observer. from Apollo 8 The name "Earth" derives from the Anglo-Saxon word erda.[156] or other less suitable terrain. A variety of religious groups. and half of the land area is either desert (14%). often associated with fundamentalist branches of Protestantism[170] or Islam. and is related to the German word erde. but a majority live in Asia. on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut. Earth has never had a sovereign government with authority over the entire globe.[161] In total. which means ground or soil. territories under dispute and other entities. 1961. a world government. The U. including the 192 United Nations member states. It became eorthe later. in particular a goddess.[171] assert that their interpretations of these creation myths in sacred texts are literal truth and should be considered alongside or replace conventional scientific accounts of the formation of the Earth and the origin and development of life. (90°S) The Earth at night.[172] Such assertions are opposed by the scientific community[173][174] and by other religious groups.[168] Unlike the rest of the planets in the Solar System. 60% of the world's population is expected to be living in urban. humankind did not begin to view the Earth as a moving object in orbit around the Sun until the 16th century. Creation myths in many religions recall a story involving the creation of the Earth by a supernatural deity or deities.[165] The furthest humans have travelled from Earth is 400.[166] Cultural viewpoint Main article: Earth in culture The first photograph ever taken by astronauts of an "Earthrise". Human population density varies widely around the world.[157] (82°28′N) The southernmost is the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. serves primarily as a forum for international diplomacy and international law. of these. [162][163][164] Normally the only humans in space are those on the International Space Station.[12] Historically. In many cultures the mother goddess is also portrayed as a fertility deity.N.[159] It is not. however.[153] Most of the growth is expected to take place in developing nations. areas.[158] The United Nations is a worldwide intergovernmental organization that was created with the goal of intervening in the disputes between nations. and a number of autonomous areas. The northernmost permanent settlement in the world is Alert. thereby avoiding armed conflict. The station's crew. and then erthe in Middle English.[175][176][177] A prominent example is . rather than rural. although a number of nation-states have striven for world domination and failed. in Antarctica. currently six people. twelve have walked on the Moon. it provides a mechanism for armed intervention. As of 2011 there are 203 sovereign states.171 km.[154] It is estimated that only one-eighth of the surface of the Earth is suitable for humans to live on—threequarters is covered by oceans. [160] The first human to orbit the Earth was Yuri Gagarin on April 12. Canada. and.[155] high mountains (27%). achieved during the 1970 Apollo 13 mission. except for some parts of Antarctica and the odd unclaimed area of Bir Tawil between Egypt and Sudan. there are 59 dependent territories. about 400 people visited outer space and reached Earth orbit as of 2004. Independent sovereign nations claim the planet's entire land surface. almost exactly at the South Pole. When the consensus of the membership permits. is usually replaced every six months. a composite of DMSP/OLS ground illumination data on a simulated night-time image of the world.

Yung.26064°) = 102. 114. Barber. and it is a gas giant.e). Beaulieu. R.. perihelion = a × (1 . J. 2. J. ambiguities surrounding ice shelves. Retrieved 2007-07-05. Cf. doi:10.C.[180][181] This is reflected in a growing environmental movement that is concerned about humankind's effects on the planet.6% and 1. I (July 2007). ^ The reference lists the longitude of perihelion.0% of the Earth's surface.  Geodesy  Geology Notes 1. In the past there were varying levels of belief in a flat Earth. Jennifer (2007-07-05). even though much of the rock which supports them lies below sea level. the term terra is used only for naming extensive land masses on celestial bodies other than the Earth. Carey. ^ The reference lists the longitude of the ascending node as -11. ^ At present. VidalMadjar. the other planets in the Solar System are either too hot or too cold to support liquid water on the surface in vapor-liquid equilibrium. 6. where a is the semi-major axis and e is the eccentricity. 3. PMID 17625559. 5. S. Based on data from the Vector Map and Global Landcover datasets. "Water vapour in the atmosphere of a transiting extrasolar planet". . extreme values for coverage of lakes and streams are 0.26064°. The quantities given are the values at the instant J2000. ^ By International Astronomical Union convention. ^ Due to natural fluctuations. G.. 4. J.. As of 2007. both secularly and periodically.. See: Tinetti.the creation-evolution controversy.[178] but this was displaced by the concept of a spherical Earth due to observation and circumnavigation. and mapping conventions for vertical datums.1038/nature06002. M. "Descriptor Terms (Feature Types)". water vapor has been detected in the atmosphere of only one extrasolar planet. Blue.0 of the secular variation. ignoring all periodic variations. 9. Liang.94719°. ^ The number of solar days is one less than the number of sidereal days because the orbital motion of the Earth about the Sun results in one additional revolution of the planet about its axis.[179] The human perspective regarding the Earth has changed following the advent of spaceflight.[182] See also Earth sciences portal Book: Solar System Wikipedia Books are collections of articles that can be downloaded or ordered in print. USGS. Y. exact values for land and ocean coverage are not meaningful. and the biosphere is now widely viewed from a globally integrated perspective. 8.. Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. which is the sum of the longitude of the ascending node and the argument of perihelion. The ice shields of Antarctica and Greenland are counted as land. That is. 7.20783° + (-11. ^ a b aphelion = a × (1 + e). which is equivalent to 348. ^ All astronomical quantities vary. P. Nature 448 (7150): 169–171. ^ Locally varies between 5 and 200 km.. Ribas.. Tennyson.73936° by the fact that any angle is equal to itself plus 360°.. A.

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