The Wonderful Earth

This wonderful earth is a wonder itself and a huge wonder as such. As of now, despite many years of searching for extraterrestrials, nobody has any credible proof that any other planet in the whole of the cosmos harbors any human life.

The Earth is our home, the only place in the universe where we know for certain that life exists. Earth formed a bit over 4.5 billion years ago from a swirling cloud of gas and dust that gave rise to our entire solar system. This gas and dust collapsed into a disk, with different parts of the disk coalescing into each of the planets in our solar system.

Our planet sits in a small corner of the Milky Way galaxy, 25,000 light-years from the galactic center and 25,000 light-years away from the rim, according to Universe Today. A light-year is a measurement of distance and not time (as the name might suggest). A light-year is the distance a beam of light travels in a single Earth year, or 6 trillion miles. Our solar system is situated on a minor arm called the Orion-Cygnus arm, which branches off from the Sagittarius arm, one of the galaxy’s two major spiral arms.

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This wonderful earth has a circumference of 24,901 miles making it the largest rocky planet in the solar system. Our planet orbits 93 million miles away from the sun, giving it the right temperature for persistent liquid water on the surface, the only known body to do so.

Several enormous landforms known as continents exist in various places on the Earth’s surface. The largest continent, which is sometimes known as Afro-Eurasia (though more commonly broken up into Africa, Europe and Asia), has a total area of 32,800,000 square miles, according to the Encyclopedia of World Geography. North and South America together comprise 16,428,000 square miles, while the frozen continent of Antarctica is 5,405,000 square miles and the area of Australia is 2,970,000 square miles.

Processes below the Earth’s crust cause these continents to move around over geological time periods. Geologists have discovered underground continents buried deep below the surface, and though nobody quite knows how or when they formed, they may be as old as the Earth itself.

The Earth’s crust is a thin layer that extends on average around 18 miles below our feet, containing mostly silicate and basaltic rocks, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The mantle is the next layer down, extending to about 1,800 miles below the Earth’s surface. A common misconception is that all the rock in the mantle is melted into magma; in fact, most of it is in a highly viscous form that is so thick that it takes millions of years for its movement to become apparent. In the Earth’s center is a nickel-iron core that is liquid on the outside, down to 1,400 miles, but crushed by incredible pressures into a solid form at the lowest depths.

This wonderful earth’s atmosphere is 78% nitrogen, with an additional 20% oxygen, 0.9% argon and 0.04% carbon dioxide, plus trace amounts of other gases, according to NASA. Most human activity takes place in the lowest atmospheric layer, the troposphere, which extends 5 to 9 miles over our heads. Above that is the stratosphere, where clouds and weather balloons fly, going up to 31 miles high. This is followed by the mesosphere, which extends up to 53 miles high (this is where meteors burn up) and the thermosphere, which extends far out into space, at least 372 miles.

Some Key Facts About this wonderful Earth:

The realization that Earth is a planet, and a planet among many others was established “fairly” recently, in the 17th century – this realization came through by the combined forces of ancient philosophers, mathematicians, and astronomers.

Plato correctly deduced that the Earth is spherical but this idea would take root and be proven much later. The Bible says about 2,700 years ago that the earth is round:

Isaiah 40:22 ESV: It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;
Job 26:7 ESV: He stretches out the north over the void and hangs the earth on nothing.
Job 26:10 ESV : He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters at the boundary between light and darkness.
Proverbs 8:27 ESV: When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep.

Earth is the third planet from the Sun, at a distance of 91 million miles.

It is the fifth-largest planet in the Solar System, being the largest of the terrestrial planets.

It has an equatorial radius of 3,958 miles, and a polar radius of 3,949 miles, meaning it is not completely spherical but rather bulged at the equator due to rotation.

The Earth has a diameter of 7,917 miles.

Earth has a mass of about 6.6 sextillion tons and a volume of about 260 billion cubic miles.

The surface area of Earth is about 197 million square miles.

Around 71% of the surface is covered by water and 29% by land.

The water is 3% fresh and 97% salted. Of that 3% freshwater, over 2% is frozen in ice sheets and glaciers meaning that less than 1% is freshwater found in lakes, rivers, and the underground. The thickness of the atmosphere is about 60 miles.

The atmosphere of Earth is divided into 6 layers: troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, exosphere, and ionosphere.

The highest temperatures on Earth can reach up to more than 110 degrees Fahrenheit / 48 degrees Celsius, and the lowest around -126 degrees Fahrenheit / -88 degrees Celsius, maybe even lower.

Together with the inner core, Earth also has an outer core, with the crust being the mantle and the thickest layer. It is a viscous mixture of molten rock about 1,800 miles and has the consistency of caramel.

The outermost layer – Earth’s crust – goes about 19 miles deep on average on land. But at the bottom of the ocean, the crust is thinner and extends about 3 miles from the seafloor to the top of the mantle.

Earth has only one satellite – the Moon – and a couple of temporal artificial satellites.

Earth completes a rotation/day – from West to East – once every 23.9 hours. One orbit/year – a trip around the Sun – is completed within 365 days. The Earth’s orbit is elliptical or oval-shaped.

Earth’s magnetosphere acts as a shield against solar and cosmic particle radiation. It has the shape of a tear-drop reaching 36,000 miles into space, and it is one of the reasons life has managed to develop.