Earth—our home planet—is a unique and wonderful world. Not only is it where life as we know it originated, but it’s also the only place in the entire universe where life thrives. Its natural wonders have captivated humanity since we first began walking across its surface from the deepest oceans and highest mountains to the frozen glaciers and steaming volcanoes.
But how much do you really know about the orb we call home?
Let’s take a look at what makes this blue speck in space unlike any other.
Facts about Earth
- Earth is constantly spinning
You probably think you’re standing still, but in terms of space, you’re actually moving very fast. In fact, depending on where you are on the globe you could be spinning through space at 1,000 miles per hour. People closest to the equator spin the fastest, while those closer to either pole spin slower. And if you were standing on the North Pole or the South Pole you’d be completely still. Can you explain why? It may help to think about a basketball spinning on someone’s finger.
- Our speedy path around the Sun
Earth is constantly rotating on its axis, but it’s also circling the sun. Our planet races around the Sun once every 365.25 days. That’s why we have 365 days in a year and an additional leap day every four years to make up the difference. During its orbit, Earth remains at an average distance of 93 million miles from the Sun and although we never feel it, we are whizzing around the sun at an average velocity of 18.5 miles per second, that’s 67,000 miles per hour!
- Water covers 70% of Earth’s surface
When astronauts first looked back at Earth from space, it was nicknamed the “Blue Planet”—an unsurprising description considering more than two-thirds of Earth’s surface is covered in water. Our seven continental landmasses make up the remaining 30%. That’s just 59 million square miles of our planet’s entire 197 million square miles.
- Earth isn’t flat, but it’s not entirely round either
Contrary to what many people believe, Earth is not a perfect sphere. For over 1,000 years the general consensus among scientist was that Earth was perfectly round. However, with space travel and the advent of modern satellites, we have since learned that our planet is actually more akin to an oval or oblate spheroid. The reason? Earth bulges around the equator by an additional 0.3% due to our planets axis of rotation giving it a squashed appearance. According to NASA, the radius of Earth is 3,963 miles at the equator and 3,950 miles at the poles.
- Days on Earth are getting longer
Days on Earth are increasing in length by roughly 1.7 milliseconds every century. One day is the period of time it takes Earth to complete one rotation with respect to the Sun. Currently, this takes 24 hours. But when Earth formed 4.6 billion years ago, each day lasted just six hours. Why? Natural tidal forces between our planet and the moon are causing the moon to slowly spiral away from Earth at a rate of about 1.5 inches per year. This causes Earth to rotate at a slower pace around its axis, ultimately leading to ever so slightly longer days as time goes on.
- Tectonics plates allow Earth to recycle
Earth is one of the solar system’s four terrestrial planets along with rocky Mercury, Venus, and Mars. It has an outer rocky crust broken up into different regions known as tectonic plates. These tectonic plates float above a layer of magma and can shift against one another. When two plates collide, one plate will move underneath the other, before pulling apart and allowing fresh crust to form. This process enables the Earth’s surface to rejuvenate and triggers geological activity, including volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and the formation of mountains and ocean trenches.
- Earth’s Atmosphere nourishes and protects life on Earth
Earth’s atmosphere is a perfect balance of gases. It consists of 78 percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen, and one percent various other gases such as argon, water vapor, and carbon dioxide. This mixture of gases enables us to breathe easy. But it also shields us from the harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation emitted by the Sun, breaks up incoming meteoroids before they can strike Earth, and prevents extreme temperature shifts between day and night. It acts similar to a greenhouse by acting as a blanket that retains heat. Without it, Earth would be a chilly zero degrees Fahrenheit!
Discover of the spectacles of Earth with AstroReality
There’s so much more to learn about our wonderful planet. How old is Earth? Why are the glaciers melting? What animals inhabited our planet 1,000 years ago? You can find the answers to all these questions and more with AstroReality EARTH—the world’s most realistic 3D model of our planet with AR learning. The EARTH model is printed within 98% accuracy using the latest 3D printing technology and satellite imagery from NASA. You can see each topographical feature in precise detail, from Mount Everest to the Grand Canyon and the Atlantic Ocean.
Users can explore Earth’s incredible past, present, and future using smart voice technology to ask Gaea, the app’s artificial intelligence questions. Using AR education, you can also see how our world has changed over time through stunning images that come to life right in front of you. Watch the weather patterns during the Mesozoic period, track the migration patterns of Humpback whales throughout history, or view the layers of Earth in stunning 3D detail. The application covers six categories including animals, plants, geology, meteorology, humanities, and the environment.
AstroReality EARTH is available online in a variety of different sizes at only $239 (USD).