Third from the sun,
that's where we are
Not too close - and not too far
A planet of life to care for and nurture
So life will continue far into the future
images for messages. Click on linked underlined text for more
the third planet from the Sun and the fifth largest.
Find out what the Earth is made of from the
New discovery in our Solar System!
Nine has been changed to Ten (above).
That's because a "new" planet has been discovered in our Solar
Learn more about this cold, dark planet.
On a hot afternoon, the atmosphere draws up
5,500 million gallons of water an hour
from the Gulf of Mexico (by evaporation).
That is some mega recycling!
"The amount of sunshine energy that hits the surface of the Earth
every minute is greater than the total amount of energy that the world's
human population consumes in a year!"
||- U.S. Dept. of
"Like all stars, the
sun is a huge fusion reactor, pumping out 100 million times as much
energy in a single second as the entire population of Earth uses in a
||- Princeton Plasma
The Sun Runs on Fusion Energy - From Core to Corona
Layers of the Sun, The Core, Solar Envelope, Photosphere,
Chromosphere, Sunspots, Corona, Solar Flares, Prominences, Solar Wind,
illustrations and pictures of the sun taken by x-ray.
you know why ocean water levels are higher
around and above underwater mountains and undersea volcanos ?
the answer is . . .
because these high massive underwater land formations have strong gravity
this pulls more water molecules to them, causing the water level to rise.
What is the largest structure on earth created by a living thing?
Did you guess a tall skyscraper or a
battleship? No, it is a coral reef - Australia's Great Barrier Reef, which is 1,250
miles long (that is as long as half-way across the United States). A coral reef is
made up of the hardened skeletons of tiny coral animals called polyps
(related to the jellyfish), and billions of living polyps of many beautiful colors.
Coral reefs are very important to sealife, providing shelter and food for hundreds of
species of living coral animals, many birds, over 1,000 species of fish, mollusks (such as
clams and mussels), and crustaceans (such as crabs), and other sealife.
Reefs are formed mostly in warm waters and where sunlight can penetrate.
Barrier reefs help protect shorelines from sea wave damage by providing a barrier.
Coral reefs are being damaged and dying from harmful human activities. The deteriorating condition of coral reefs is causing great
environmental concern. Protection is being provided to try and bring life back to
Just think - tiny animals, most of which are less than one
inch, some the size of pinheads, can build the largest structure on Earth!
Click on this fish and help it find a CORAL REEF
What is the basis of all marine (sea) food chains?
There are more than 25,000 species of algae, all of which contain
The tiniest algae are single-celled, and are so tiny that millions can exist
unseen in a gallon of water. Algae release oxygen, which animals
and humans need to survive.
Of the largest algae are the giant Kelp, seaweed which can reach 200 feet
in length, some being able to grow 150 ft in just one year!
There are underwater forests of seaweed in the ocean that provide homes
and food for sealife.
Besides sustaining sealife as a food source, many products have been
developed from algae, including: foods, antibiotics, soaps, adhesives,
gels, and abrasives used in polishing.
Did you know that one of your favorite foods is
probably Kelp seaweed with chocolate sauce on it?
You don't believe it? If you look up
"seaweed" in your encyclopedia, it will tell you that Kelp is full of vitamins
and minerals, but its primary value is as a source of algin, which is used to
thicken ice cream and other products. You do like chocolate sauce on your ice cream,
We need to come up for air after that one! Speaking
of air -
Have you ever
wondered where the oxygen
in our atmosphere
4.5 billion years ago when Earth was born,
there was no oxygen in the
and no life on Earth as we know it today.
Then about 3.5
billion years ago a bacteria, known as cyanobacteria, evolved which became quite widespread by the
Proterozoic period (544 million to 2.5 billion years ago).
Around the middle of the Proterozoic period
oxygen began to build up in the atmosphere
from the photosynthetic
activity of this bacteria. Before this time, the atmosphere did not
The other great contribution of the cyanobacteria is the origin of
Cyanobacteria are the oldest known fossils on record - and they are still around today!
Learn more about these
Architects of the Earth's Atmosphere
(Introduction to the Cyanobacteria, UCMP)
How thick is the layer of Earth's atmosphere?
If Earth were the size of an apple, the atmosphere would be no thicker than the apple
So a very thin layer of
atmosphere provides our life support system and protects us from harmful radiation.
Approximately 110,000 million tons of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere each
year from burning around 5,500 million tons of fossil fuels. That is too much for
our fragile atmosphere to handle. We need our forest ecosystems to absorb carbon dioxide and
give off oxygen. And we must
stop burning fossil fuels and find alternative sources of energy that are not harmful to
the environment and our atmosphere.
about the 5-part composition of Earth, consisting of the atmosphere, the
hydrosphere, the lithospere, mantle and core. That thin layer of
atmosphere, for instance, is more than 700 miles thick, with most of its
mass concentrated in the lower 3 ½ miles surrounding Earth. (Encarta)
adapting to humans!
The Day the Earth Got Skinnier!
What happened on December 26, 2004 that changed the shape of our planet?
Catastrophic event on December 26, 2004
A global menace !
click to get the facts on this
Is there a place on the planet where no rain has ever fallen?
Yes. The driest place on Earth is
Chile's Atacama Desert.
It had no rain for approximately 400 years up until 1971.
In some parts of this wasteland rain has never fallen.
are moving the Earth!
many canals, dams and reservoirs have been constructed over the last 100
years that this redistribution of freshwater from one place to
another has resulted in a small change in the wobble of the Earth as it
American - Safeguarding our Water)
Burning a 100 watt light bulb
for one hour, with electricity that came from burning fossil fuels, causes 0.1 kilogram of
carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere.
So remember to turn the lights out
when you are not needing them
and you will be saving natural resources and helping the environment.
Swamps, bogs, fens and marshes are
where water remains near the surface or above the surface of the land
all or most of the year.
How should wetlands be changed to make
them more useful?
Click on this amphibian for the answer;
and yes, you are going to have to do some reading.
"yew" know that clear-cutting loggers used to trash the Pacific
Yew trees in the old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest?
considered them worthless - until scientists discovered that Taxol in the
bark of the Pacific Yew was effective in containing growth of cancer
and the Pacific Yew tree have saved many lives since then.
think...these trees were once wasted. What if they had become
extinct before discovering their importance in medicine?
all the things we will never discover because so many plants, trees,
organisms and animals are becoming extinct every day somewhere in the
When winter comes in the northern
zones, the hibernators can't turn up the heat
so they have devised some
incredible methods of survival through the ages.
Some freeze "as
hard as hockey pucks."
Do you think any living
thing can survive as an ice cube?
here but don't try this at home!)
Imagine a species
that can freeze "solid as a rock" for months,
and then thaw out and go on happily about its business.
Scientists are studying this amazing phenomenon in hopes that
this process will lead to discoveries that will save many lives.
Learn more about these hibernators
The Earth is
8,000 miles in diameter
moving through space at
approximately 12.5 miles per second,
or 45,000 miles per hour
as it orbits
938,900,000 km (583,400,000 miles)
around the sun at about
106,000 km/h (about 66,000 mph).
these speeds, why don't we fly off the Earth into space?
What keeps us "attached" to this speeding, rotating planet?
At the center of the
Earth is a giant rotating iron ball
which is about 1,500 miles in diameter
(almost as large as the Moon,
and about the temperature of the surface of the Sun).
This spinning solid iron inner core is surrounded by
an outer core of swirling liquid iron alloy.
Interactions between the inner core and the outer core
generate the Earth's magnetic field.
Graphic credit: Gary A. Glatzmaier,
Professor of Earth Sciences, Univ. of California, Santa Cruz
What does a submarine have in common with a seashell?
The Chambered Nautilus has a spiral shell which is divided into chambers,
each one larger than the one before. The nautilus (soft-bodied mollusk) that lives
inside fills the chambers with gases to rise in the water and reabsorbs the gases to sink.
A submarine has compartments (tanks) which are filled with water to dive, and
emptied of water to rise. The first nuclear-powered submarine was named
"Nautilus" and was the first submarine to sail under the ice at the North Pole
(1958). Submarines are used to explore the ocean and do scientific research.
HERE ARE A FEW
EXTREMES OF LIFE ON OUR PLANET
There is a bloom that has been known to grow
as big as the state of New Jersey!
When certain conditions
exist and an overabundance of nutrients or pollution exist in water, such
as in lakes, estuaries and the ocean, an outbreak of plant growth can
occur known as an algae bloom. The largest one ever measured
occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, near the mouth of the Mississippi
River. Algae blooms can cause major environmental damage and kill
great numbers of fish. Read more about it on our Oceans page.
Extreme plant growth can
cause extreme environmental damage
What's all the flap about?
An Extremely long migration!
The Arctic Terns hold the world record
for the longest migration of any bird.
They spend half the year in the Antarctic, and breed in the Arctic during
the summer months.
Hummingbird is the smallest of all birds
It grows to only 2 inches!
(5 centimeters) long
That's extremely small for a bird
Hummingbirds can hover and fly straight
up like helicopters
An endospore is a unique resting
cell produced by some bacteria.
Some endospores that have been
preserved in amber have remained dormant (inactive) for 25 million
years - and then come back to life when extricated and introduced
into a favorable environment!
Major Groups of Prokaryotes
Extremely Large Species
What currently living
the size of a small car
as heavy as an elephant
click here to learn more about this endangered
First-ever observations of a live giant squid in the wild
You don't have to be big to be important
Scientists are studying
Earth from space to learn about the cycle of life and how our Earth
functions. Although these are big, huge complicated subjects -
surprisingly, the star performer in mapping and monitoring of the carbon
cycle is a tiny single celled organism...vast, drifting fields of
(click on image to enlarge)
Find out more
about it in "Colors of Life" on our Great Links page
(see The Biological Engine of our Living Planet).
you tired of your fish hobby, your pet turtle or frog, and the plants that
you had growing in their little habitats within your home? Or do you
feel sorry for them and want them to be free and returned to nature?
How about your pet gorilla - has he gotten too big and now he's taking
over? You think you'll be doing them a favor by setting them
release these creatures or their special plants into the outdoor
(especially the gorilla!).
invasive non-native species can harm the environment. Also, your pet
may not live through the day once released into what might be an
inhospitable environment for that species.
Find out more:
What sea creature has a donut-shaped brain
through which all its food has to pass?
Click on this fish
It looks nervous!
you know that the ocean waters are less salty near the
Dive into our Ocean page and
learn more about our Water Planet - The Blue Planet.
And be sure and visit Coral Communities, Wetlands and WaterWebs