Earth 101 | The "Goldilocks" Planet

Earth, the only planet known to maintain life. A product of scientific phenomena and sheer chance. This blue speck in space holds the past, present, and future, of our very existence.

Approximately 4.5 billion years ago, the Earth formed from particles left over from the creation of our sun. Gravity drew these particles together to form pebbles which then formed boulders, and eventually, the Earth.

At its heart is a solid inner core covered by a liquid outer core. Above this sits the mantle, made of flowing silicate rocks, and a rocky crust. This rocky mass is the third planet from the sun, orbiting the star from an average distance of about 93 million miles.


It's close enough to the sun to be warm unlike the cold gas giants. But not so close that its surface is exposed to extreme heat and solar radiation as is the case with Mercury.

Earth's unique position in the solar system allows it to house phenomena yet to be found anywhere else in the universe, particularly liquid surface water and life.

Earth has been called the "Goldilocks planet." In the story "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," a little girl named Goldilocks liked everything just right. Her porridge couldn't be too hot or too cold. And her bed couldn't be too hard or too soft. On Earth, everything is just right for living things. It's warm, but not too warm. And it has water, but not too much water. (NASA)

According to one theory, much of Earth's water is as old as its rocks, both of which having formed during the Earth's earliest days. Because of Earth's unique distance from the sun, the planet is able to contain water in all of its forms, liquid, ice and gas rather than have them permanently frozen
or evaporated into space.


But Earth is the only known place in the universe with liquid water on the surface, thereby having unique cascading effects on the planet. It hydrates the land helping create nutrient rich soil. It collects and pools to form oceans and freshwater systems. And it cycles upward to add moisture to Earth's protective atmosphere. And where there is liquid water, there is life.

About 3.8 billion years ago in Earth's oceans primitive life existed in the form of microbial organisms. They and the ensuing billions of years gave rise to a range of more advanced life forms that thrived in Earth's seas, lands and skies.

As the only world known to harbor life, Earth's biodiversity is expansive in nature. An estimated 1.5 million species of plants, animals, bacteria, fungi and others have been cataloged with potentially millions, if not billions more yet to be discovered.

The name "Earth" is derived from both English and German words, which mean ground. But, the handle's creator is unknown. One interesting fact about its name: Earth is the only planet that wasn't named after a Greek or Roman god or goddess. (livescience.com)

Home to life and fueled by water, Earth houses a unique global ecosystem as curious and as grand as the astronomical events that made them possible.


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