Here are some interesting facts about the planet we call home. Earth, the third planet from the Sun in our Solar System, is the only planet not named after a Greek or Roman Deity. We have come a long way today in understanding this incredible planet from the times when humans believed that Sun and other planets revolved around the Earth or from when they believed that the Earth was flat and you would fall off if you walked to the edge.
Given our deep understanding today of our planet, here are some interesting facts that you might like to read and share with your children as well.
1. Earth’s rotation is gradually slowing
Yes, you read that right. The decrease, which has the effect of lengthening the days, is almost imperceptible at approximately 17 milliseconds per hundred years. Therefore, in approx. 140 million years the day could be 25 hours long.
2. Earth is the densest planet in the Solar System
We all know that Jupiter is the largest planet and therefore the heaviest. But did you know that Earth is the densest planet with a density of 5.5gm/cm3. Mercury is close second.
Earth weighs around 6 septillion kgs (6 followed by 24 zeroes!)
Saturn and Jupiter, though large in size are actually the least dense. Saturn has a density of only 0.7gm/cm3 and Jupiter 1.3gm/cm3.
Theoretically Saturn could float on water!!!
3. Earth orbits the Sun at 107,000 kmph
Earth revolves around the Sun at a phenomenally high speed of 107,000kmph, which is approx. 30km per second.
4. Earth’s surface is mostly water
70% of Earth’s surface is water. It is for this reason that it appears to be a ‘Blue Planet’ to astronauts when they go to space.
5. Only 3% of the water is fresh
It is interesting to note that while Earth’s surface has so much water, only 3% of it is fresh water, the remaining 97% being salty. Of this 3%, over 2% is frozen as glaciers or ice sheets. That effectively leaves only 1% of the total water that Earth has as usable fresh water in rivers, lakes and underground.
You can of course understand now why Antarctica has 70% of the Earth’s fresh water.
6. Earth has 1 moon and 2 co-orbital satellites
We all know that Earth has 1 moon (The Moon that we see at night, our one natural satellite). But did you know there are 2 additional asteroids locked into a co-orbital orbits with Earth? They’re called 3753 Cruithne and 2002 AA29.
3753 Cruithne is 5 km across. It doesn’t orbit the Earth. It follows its own path around the Sun but it appears that it follows the Earth.
2002 AA29 is only 60 meters across, and makes a horseshoe orbit around the Earth that brings it close to the planet every 95 years.
7. Earth is very old
Researchers calculate the age of the Earth by dating the rocks and the meteorites that have been discovered on Earth. They have found out that Earth is approx. 4.54 billion years old. Life on Earth however has been there for only 150-200 million years.
8. Earth’s core is as hot as the Sun
Earth can be said to have 3 layers – the Crust, The Mantle and The Core. The Crust is the outermost layer, the Mantle is the thickest layer and Core is the center part of the Earth. The Core consists mainly of Iron and Nickle. The outer layer of Core is liquid and innermost part is believed to be solid and as hot as the Sun.
9. Earth has a strong magnetic force
Due to the iron-nickle core and the fast rotation speed of the Earth, a magnetic field is created around the Earth. This magnetic field helps protect the Earth from the solar winds which get deflected away from the Earth.
10. Earth has water in all forms
Earth is the only planet where water exists in all its forms – solid, liquid and gas.