Today is Earth Day, 22 April 2009, the global event which celebrates our beautiful world by acknowledging the fact that we need to keep our planet healthy for now and, more importantly, for future generations. It is a day in which “People from across the world come together to reduce waste, recycle, plant trees, and promote awareness about the environment and what we can do for it” (Ben Parr, 2009). Coincidentally, Earth Day 2009 falls on the same day as the 2009 South African “free and fair” democratic elections.
As a matter of fact, everyday is Earth Day. Why should only one day a year be dedicated to the protection of the only known planet capable of supporting life? Our planet. Without the Earth we would simply cease to exist. As a result it is incredibly important that we, the human race, take steps to protect our world, the only habitable world in our solar system capable of supporting organic carbon based life forms.
To find out more about Earth Day I Googled the cause as well as our planet. To my surprise, and in true Google fashion, I noticed that Google had created a new ‘doodle’ specifically for Earth Day. I think it is brilliant and just one of the many reasons why Google is still so cool. I had to screen capture it for you all, just in case someone missed it. Anyway, I eventually came across this very cool website with immensely interesting facts about our planet. Some of the information was so interesting that I could not resist reproducing it here on my blog, all for you of course.
Earth is almost a perfect sphere
The Earth’s shape could be described as an oblate spheroid. It’s kind of like a sphere, but the Earth’s rotation causes the equator to bulge out . What this means is that the measurement from pole to pole is about 43 km less than the diameter of Earth across the equator.
70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water
When astronauts first went into the space, they looked back at the Earth with human eyes for the first time, and called our home the Blue Planet. And it’s no surprise. 70% of our planet is covered with oceans. The remaining 30% is the solid ground, rising above sea level.
The Earth’s atmosphere extends out to 10,000 km
The atmosphere is thickest within the first 50 km or so, but it actually reaches out to about 10,000 km above the surface of the planet. This outermost layer of the atmosphere is called the exosphere, and starts about 500 km above the surface of the Earth. As we said, it goes all the way up to 10,000 km above the surface. At this point, free-moving particles can actually escape the pull of Earth’s gravity, and be blown away by the Sun’s solar wind. But this high atmosphere is extremely thin. The bulk of the Earth’s atmosphere is down near the Earth itself. In fact, 75% of the Earth’s atmosphere is contained within the first 11 km above the planet’s surface.
Earth has 1 moon and 2 co-orbital satellites
As you’re probably aware, Earth has 1 moon (The Moon). 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. We won’t go into too much detail about the Moon, I’m sure you’ve heard all about it. 3753 Cruithne is 5 km across, and sometimes called Earth’s second moon. It doesn’t actually orbit the Earth, but has a synchronized orbit with our home planet. It has an orbit that makes it look like it’s following the Earth in orbit, but it’s actually following its own, distinct path around the Sun. 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. In about 600 years, it will appear to circle Earth in a quasi-satellite orbit. Scientists have suggested that it might make a good target for a space exploration mission.
Who knew about the two ‘co-orbital’ satellites? I sure did not know. The Earth is amazing hey? Disney seems to think so too. Walt Disney studios have produced, via ‘Disneynature’ (I wonder when they created this subsidiary?), a movie called Earth, which is supposed to have been released today. Apparently the movie follows three different animal families (polar bears, elephants, and whales) on their journeys across the planet and is supposed to serve as a reminder of how precious life on Earth is.
I also came across this rather concise and informative video, which explains what Earth Day is about. I embedded the video with a green border just for Earth Day! You know you love it! Besides, I am cool that way *geeky snigger*.
There are many ways to help our Earth, least of all trying to reduce your carbon footprint – checkout Louisa’s post on Earth Day, she uploaded a rather funny comic strip about carbon foot prints. Needless to say I am already reducing my carbon foot print, albeit temporarily. How? Well, you all know I broke my arm ‘right’? Well, because of that I will not be driving for the next eight weeks. I will also be eating less, since I cannot exercise, and thus I will be expelling less gas… well, that is debatable *smirks dryly*.
Until the next time “Milieunairs”!