Earth from ISS

35 Amazing Facts About Earth

We sometimes forget how amazing and interesting place is where we live in. Here are the amazing facts about our planet, Earth. Some of them even may sound fake but in fact they are totally true.

Space

1. Earth is a fast moving spacecraft

We’re living in a big, fast moving (really fast!) spacecraft. Even when you’re resting on your armchair, you’re flying through space faster than the fastest human-made object ever built: around 1.3 million miles per hour (2.1 million km/hr).

2. The first photo of Earth from space has been taken on 1946

Long before the Soviet-made Sputnik truly began the space age in 1957, on October 24, 1946, the first photo of Earth from the space has been taken. The scientists launched a Nazi-built V-2 rocket (No. 13) from the White Sands Missile Range, a United States Army rocket range in southern New Mexico. There was a camera aboard the rocket, and when the rocket reached 105 km (65 mi), the black-and-white photo was taken. The rocket was one of the V-2 rockets captured and moved to the US at the end of the WWII.

The first photo of Earth from the Space
The first photo of Earth from the Space (October 24, 1946). (Photo: NASA)

3. The farthest photo of Earth

The farthest spacecraft from Earth, Voyager 1, took a photo of planet Earth in 1990, from a record distance of about 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles, 40 AU) from Earth. The photo known as the Pale Blue Dot. In the photograph below, Earth is shown as a fraction of a pixel (0.12 pixel in size) against the vastness of space.

Pale blue dot
Pale blue dot: the farthest photo of Earth

“Consider again that dot [Earth]. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” –Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.

4. Earth is the densest planet in our Solar System

If you’re looking for the densest planet in our solar system, you don’t have to look far: Earth is the densest planet in our Solar System. It has a density of 5.51 grams per cubic centimeter. This is only the average density of the planet. The core is much denser than the oceans for example.

5. ISS is the Most Expensive Object Ever Constructed

The International Space Station (ISS) is the most expensive object ever constructed. In 2010 the cost was expected to be $150 billion.

International Space Station (ISS)
The International Space Station (ISS) is a space station, or a habitable artificial satellite, in low Earth orbit. Its first component launched into orbit in 1998, and the ISS is now the largest artificial body in orbit and can often be seen with the naked eye from Earth. It is the most expensive object ever constructed.

6. You won’t explode in space without a spacesuit

It is a common myth that your body would explode in space if you don’t wear a spacesuit. Human skin is strong enough to keep the body from bursting. In fact, you can live up to two minutes in the space unprotected. But, eventually, of course, you’d die.

Also you won’t freeze immediately in the space, as in the Hollywood movies, despite its average temperature is so low (3 K or −270 °C; −454 °F). Because there’s no matter in the space, so the heat does not leave the body quickly enough. You only lose heat via thermal radiation, of course you will get colder and eventually freeze but very, very slowly.

You won't explode in space without a spacesuit
You won’t explode in space without a spacesuit

There’s also a thing called Armstrong limit, often called Armstrong’s line. It is the altitude that produces an atmospheric pressure so low that water boils at the normal temperature of the human body: 37 °C (98.6 °F). The Armstrong line begins at an altitude of approximately 18 km (60,000 ft) to about 19 km (62,000 ft). It would be better to wear a spacesuit above that altitude, for your own safety (your blood’s not going to boil though, as the walls of the veins keep your blood pressure high enough to stop your blood from boiling). At or above the Armstrong limit, exposed bodily liquids such as saliva, tears, urine, blood and the liquids wetting the alveoli within the lungs —but not vascular blood (blood within the circulatory system), as explained before— will boil away without a pressure suit, and no amount of breathable oxygen delivered by any means will sustain life for more than a few minutes.

7. Tardigrades can live 10 days in vacuum

Speaking of surviving in the vacuum, Tardigrades, also known as water bears, can live 10 days in vacuum, which makes them the hardiest animal in existence. Two species of dried-up tardigrades was sent to the space in 2007, and ten days later, they’ve been brought back, alive.source They can also survive extreme conditions that would be rapidly fatal to nearly all other known life forms. They can withstand temperature ranges from 1 K (−458 °F; −272 °C) (close to absolute zero) to about 420 K (300 °F; 150 °C), pressures about six times greater than those found in the deepest ocean trenches, ionizing radiation at doses hundreds of times higher than the lethal dose for a human, and the vacuum of outer space. They can go without food or water for more than 30 years, drying out to the point where they are 3% or less water, only to re-hydrate, forage, and reproduce.

Tardigrade
Tardigrades, also known as water bears, can live 10 days in vacuum, and despite they look alien, they are somehow beautiful. They are also not that big, the biggest adults may reach a body length of 1.5 mm (0.059 in), the smallest below 0.1 mm.

8. The Great Wall is not the only man-made object visible from the space

The Great Wall of China, frequently billed as the only man-made object visible from space, but most times, it isn’t. In fact, according to NASA, it is very difficult to see or photograph the Great Wall from low Earth orbit. It very rarely can be visible in the low orbit, and to an aided eye, under special conditions.source

But, you can see a lot of things people have made, and perhaps most visible from low Earth orbit are cities at night. Cities can be seen during the day too, as can major roadways and bridges, airports, dams and reservoirs.source

9. Earth is smooth

The highest point, Mount Everest’s peak is 8,848 meters (29,029 feet) above sea level. The lowest point, Mariana Trench is almost 11 km (36,089 feet) deep. The diameter of Earth is 12,742 km (7917.5 mi). If we take the greater distortion on Earth’s surface, the Mariana trench, the ratio is 11/12,742 ~ 1/1158. If Earth was at the size of a soccer ball, you wouldn’t feel the Mariana Trench, or the Everest if you rub your palm to the surface.

10. There are a lot of man-made objects orbiting Earth

Since the launch of Sputnik 1 (4 October 1957), 38,000 artificial satellites have orbited the Earth. Still more than 22,000 man-made objects (10 cm/3.94 in or longer) up there. Only 5% of them are functioning satellites. 8% of them are spent rockets, while remaining 87% are fragments and inactive satellites. NASA estimates everyday average 1 object is returning (falling) to Earth.

Replica of Sputnik 1
Replica of Sputnik 1, the first artificial Earth satellite. The Soviet Union launched it into an elliptical low Earth orbit on 4 October 1957. It was a 58 cm (23 in) diameter polished metal sphere, with four external radio antennae to broadcast radio pulses. It was visible all around the Earth and its radio pulses were detectable. This surprise success precipitated the American Sputnik crisis and triggered the Space Race, a part of the larger Cold War. The launch ushered in new political, military, technological, and scientific developments. Photo: wikipedia

Atmosphere

11. Meteorites

Between 100 and 300 tons of small meteorites, mainly fragments of dust, enter the atmosphere every day. And each day, up to 4 billion meteoroids fall to Earth.

The largest known meteorite (as a single piece), and the most massive naturally-occurring piece of iron known on Earth’s surface, left no crater. It’s the Hoba meteorite, lies on the farm “Hoba West”, not far from Grootfontein, in the Otjozondjupa Region of Namibia.

Hoba is a tabloid body of metal, measuring 2.7×2.7×0.9 metres (8.9×8.9×3.0 ft). In 1920 its mass was estimated at 66 tons. Erosion, scientific sampling and vandalism reduced its bulk over the years. The remaining mass is estimated at just over 60 tons. The meteorite is composed of about 84% iron and 16% nickel, with traces of cobalt.

Hoba meteorite
Hoba meteorite

The impact is thought to have occurred more recently than 80,000 years ago. The meteorite is unusual in that it is flat on both major surfaces, possibly causing it to have skipped across the top of the atmosphere like a flat stone skipping on water. Thus reducing its velocity and resulting in no crater. The meteor would have been slowed to about 720 miles per hour (0.32 km/s) from its speed on entering the Earth’s atmosphere, typically in excess of 10 km/s for similar objects.

12. Lightning strikes

Lightning strikes reach the ground on Earth as much as 8 million times per day or 100 times per second, according to the National Severe Storms Laboratory.

13. 408 km/h (220 kn; 253 mph; 113 m/s): The fastest wind speed ever recorded on Earth

The fastest wind speed not related to tornadoes ever recorded was during the passage of Tropical Cyclone Olivia on 10 April 1996: an automatic weather station on Barrow Island, Australia, registered a maximum wind gust of 408 km/h (220 kn; 253 mph; 113 m/s).

14. Hot and cold, dry and wet

Death Valley’s Furnace Creek (a census-designated place in Inyo County, California) holds the record for the highest reliably recorded air temperature in the world, 134 °F (56.7 °C) on July 10, 1913. On the other hand, Vostok station of Antarctica by far the coldest spot on earth, with the lowest recorded temperature at -89.2 °C (-128 °F) on July 21, 1983 (during the Antarctic winter).

It is hard to believe that the Earth’s driest place is in one of its poles, but this is the truth. It’s in Antarctica: the McMurdo Dry Valleys, which have seen no rain for nearly 2 million years.

And the wettest place on Earth is in India – according to the Guinness Book of World Records, Mawsynram received 26,000 millimeters (1,000 in) of rainfall in 1985.

Vostok Station
Vostok Station (means “Station East” or “East Station” in English) is a Russian (formerly Soviet) research station in inland Princess Elizabeth Land, Antarctica. Founded by the Soviet Union in 1957, it is by far the coldest spot on earth, with the lowest recorded temperature recorded at -89.2 °C (-128 °F) on July 21, 1983 (during the Antarctic winter).
On average, Vostok also is the coldest place on Earth. The average temperature of the cold season (from April to October) is about −65 °C (−85 °F), while the average temperature of the warm season (from November to March) is about −42 °C (−44 °F).

Ground

15. The continents are drifting

On average, the Americas move about one inch further away from Europe and Africa per year. The landmasses move away from each other due to a phenomenon called continental drift, where the tectonic plates that continents sit on are in constant motion and can drift toward and away from one another.

16. The Himalayas are still rising, and Nanga Parbat will be the world’s highest mountain someday

The Himalayas are the product of a collision between two continental plates (India and Eurasia, because of the continental drift explained above). The collision continues today, and the Himalayas are still rising. Mount Everest, the highest mountain on Earth is rising about 4 millimeters per year on average. But, Nanga Parbat, the western-most peak of the Himalayas, the world’s ninth-highest at 8,126 meters (26,660 ft) above sea level, is growing faster than any other sizable region on Earth (at a rate of 7 mm/year).

Today, Mount Everest’s peak is 8,848 meters (29,029 ft) above sea level. With a simple calculation, after around 241,000 years from now (just a blink of an eye in the geological scale), Nanga Parbat will be the world’s highest mountain.

Nanga Parbat
After around 241,000 years from now (just a blink of an eye in the geological scale), Nanga Parbat will be the world’s highest mountain. Photo: Tahsin Anwar Ali, own work (wikipedia)

17. Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world’s countries combined

Canada has an extremely large number of lakes, with the number of lakes larger than three square kilometres being estimated at close to 31,752 by the Atlas of Canada. Of these, 561 lakes have a surface area larger than 100 km2, including four of the Great Lakes. Almost 9% (891,163 square kilometers / 344,080 sq mi) of Canada’s total area is covered by freshwater. There is no official estimate of the number of smaller lakes.

18. Asia is big… and populous

Asia Continent is covered 30% of the total earth land area, but represent 60% of the world’s population.

19. 90% of Libya is covered in desert

Libya is a predominantly desert country. Up to 90% of the land area is covered in desert.

The Libyan Desert is one of the most arid and sun-baked places on earth. In places, decades may pass without seeing any rainfall at all, and even in the highlands rainfall seldom happens, once every 5–10 years. Likewise, the temperature in the Libyan Desert can be extreme; on 13 September 1922 the town of ‘Aziziya, which is located southwest of Tripoli, recorded an air temperature of 58 °C (136.4 °F), considered to be a world record. In September 2012, however, the world record figure of 58 °C was overturned by the World Meteorological Organization and the record went back to the Furnace Creek.

A Caravan in Libyan Desert
A Caravan in Libyan Desert

20. Antarctica

Antarctica contains about 90% of the world’s ice (and thereby about 70% of the world’s fresh water). If all of this ice were melted, sea levels would rise about 60 meters (200 ft).

21. Volcanoes

According to the volcanodiscovery.com, the most active volcano in the world is Kīlauea (Hawaii). It is followed by Mount Etna in Italy and Piton de la Fournaise on La Réunion island.

After that, it is difficult to decide the exact order on the list, but the following are very close: Stromboli (which has erupted many times and is constantly active with minor eruptions, often visible from many points on the island and from the surrounding sea, giving rise to the island’s nickname “Lighthouse of the Mediterranean”), Merapi, Erta Ale, Ol Doinyo Lengai, Unzen, Yasur, Ambrym, Arenal, Pacaya, Klyuchevsky, Sheveluch, and Erebus.

But what is an active volcano? The Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program defines an active volcano as having erupted within the last 10,000 years. There are approximately 500 active volcanoes in the world today, not including those underneath the oceans.

A volcano finally goes extinct when there’s no lava supply in the magma chamber beneath the volcano.

Seas

22. The oceans cover 71% of the Earth’s surface

And that percentage is growing, because of the global warming. If sea level should rise by 3 meters (10 feet), many of the World’s coastal cities, like Venice, London, New Orleans, and New York, would be under water.

23. The Passific is big

The Pacific Ocean is by far Earth’s largest ocean basin, covering an area of about 59 million square miles (155 million square kilometers) and containing more than half of the free water on Earth, according to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). It’s so big that all of the world’s continents could fit into it.

Pacific Ocean from the space
Pacific Ocean from the space. Photo: NASA

24. All All Earth’s water can fit in a sphere 860 miles (1384.04 km) in diameter

Yes, Pacific is big – but despite that, all Earth’s water, liquid fresh water, and water in lakes and rivers can fit in a sphere 860 miles (1384.04 km) in diameter.

Earth and water
All Earth’s water, liquid fresh water, and water in lakes and rivers
Spheres showing:
1. All water (sphere over western U.S., 860 miles/1384.04 km in diameter)
2. Fresh liquid water in the ground, lakes, swamps, and rivers (sphere over Kentucky, 169.5 miles/272.78 km in diameter), and
3. Fresh-water lakes and rivers (sphere over Georgia, 34.9 miles/56.17 km in diameter).
Credit: Howard Perlman, USGS; globe illustration by Jack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (©); Adam Nieman.

25. The largest ocean in the Solar System is probably not on Earth

Jupiter’s moon Europa is just a bit smaller than our Earth’s moon, may have a world-wide ocean 100 kilometers (60 miles) deep covered with ice. Such an ocean might contain more liquid water than all the Earth’s oceans combined!

26. The Pacific Ocean contains around 25,000 different islands

It is many more than are found in Earth’s other oceans.

27. Up to 1 million species live in the oceans

And 2/3 of them are yet to be described.

28. The top ten feet (3 meters) of the ocean holds as much heat as the entire atmosphere.

What’s more; Ten meters (33 feet) of ocean depth has the same mass as the whole atmosphere. 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) of the ocean depth has as much water as the whole atmosphere.

29. The Mediterranean was dry

Seven million years ago, when geological forces lifted the Straits of Gibraltar and blocked the flow of Atlantic Ocean water into the Mediterranean, the Mediterranean Basin was completely dry! And in some places its bed lies 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) below sea level. When the Straits of Gibraltar dropped to today’s level, what may have been the Earth’s greatest waterfall may have run for 1,000 years, until the sea was full.

Today, the lowest point on dry land is the shore of the Dead Sea, shared by Palestine, Israel, and Jordan, 418 m (1,371 feet).

Underground

30. Magnetic Poles of Earth move

The magnetic poles of Earth move, due to magnetic changes in the Earth’s core. In 2001, the North Magnetic Pole was determined by the Geological Survey of Canada to lie near Ellesmere Island in northern Canada at 81.3°N 110.8°W. It was situated at 83.1°N 117.8°W in 2005. In 2009, while still situated within the Canadian Arctic territorial claim at 84.9°N 131.0°W, it was moving toward Russia at between 55 and 60 kilometers (34 and 37 mi) per year. As of 2016, the pole is projected to have moved beyond the Canadian Arctic territorial claim to 86.4°N 166.3°W.

And as of 2005, the South Magnetic Pole was calculated to lie at 64°31’48”S 137°51’36”E, placing it off the coast of Antarctica, between Adelie Land and Wilkes Land. In 2015 it lay at 64.28°S 136.59°E (est). That point lies outside the Antarctic Circle. Due to polar drift, the pole is moving northwest by about 10 to 15 kilometers per year. Its current distance from the actual Geographic South Pole is approximately 2860 km.

Furthermore, since the Earth’s magnetic field is not exactly symmetrical, the North and South Magnetic Poles are not antipodal, meaning that a straight line drawn from one to the other does not pass through the geometric center of the Earth.

And the positions of magnetic north and magnetic south are interchanges, which is called “Geomagnetic reversal”. The Earth’s magnetic field alternates between periods of normal polarity, in which the direction of the field was the same as the present direction, and reverse polarity, in which the field was the opposite. These periods are called chrons. The time spans of chrons are randomly distributed with an average of 450,000 years. Most reversals are estimated to take between 1,000 and 10,000 years. The latest one, the Brunhes–Matuyama reversal, occurred 780,000 years ago; and may have happened very quickly, within a human lifetime. A brief complete reversal, known as the Laschamp event, occurred only 41,000 years ago during the last glacial period. That reversal lasted only about 440 years with the actual change of polarity lasting around 250 years.

Geomagnetic reversal
Earth’s magnetic field during a Geomagnetic reversal: NASA computer simulation using the model of Glatzmaier and Roberts. The tubes represent magnetic field lines, blue when the field points towards the center and yellow when away. The rotation axis of the Earth is centered and vertical. The dense clusters of lines are within the Earth’s core. Image: wikipedia

31. Earth has a solid inner core of iron which has a radius of about 760 miles (1,220 km)

It is surrounded by a liquid, outer core composed of a nickel-iron alloy. It is about 1,355 miles (2,180 km) thick. The inner core spins at a different speed than the rest of the planet. This is thought to cause Earth’s magnetic field.

32. Earth’s core is as hot as the surface of the Sun

The temperature of Earth’s core is estimated at 6,000 °C (about 10,800 °F). That’s as hot as the surface of the sun.

33. There is a huge underground river 4,000 meters (13,000 ft) below the Amazon

It’s called Rio Hamza (Hamza river) – an unofficial name. It slowly flows for approximately 6,000 kilometers (3,700 mi) long. Its discovery was announced in 2011. The unofficial name is in honour of scientist Valiya Mannathal Hamza, of Brazil’s National Observatory, who has undertaken research on the region for four decades.

The Hamza and the Amazon are the two main drainage systems for the Amazon Basin. The reported flow rate of the Hamza, at approximately 3,000 cubic meters (110,000 cu ft) per second, is 3% of the Amazon’s. It runs west to east, some 4,000 meters (13,000 ft) below the Earth’s surface, and follows roughly the path of the Amazon river. The Hamza empties in the Atlantic Ocean, deep under the surface. Its own water has a high salt content.

Rio Hamza’s width ranges between 200 and 400 kilometers as opposed to Amazon’s 1 and 100 kilometers. The Amazon flows at an average speed of 5 meters per second but in Hamza, the water flows at an average speed of less than 1 millimeter per hour.

Life

34. Largest living structure can be seen from the space

The Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, Australia is the largest living structure on Earth. Stretching for 1,429 miles over an area of approximately 133,000 square miles, it is the largest coral reef system in the world.

But a coral reef is not a single living thing – they are built by colonies of tiny animals found in marine waters that contain few nutrients. A specific honey fungus measuring 2.4 miles (3.8 km) across in the Blue Mountains in Oregon is thought to be the largest living organism on Earth.

Read more Great Barrier Reef facts (infographic).

Great Barrier Reef from the space
Great Barrier Reef from the space. Photo: NASA

35. Only 14% of the World’s species has been identified

Our planet is home to 8.7 million species. Even after centuries of effort, some 86 percent of Earth’s species have yet to be fully described.

Sources

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