Q:

What are the physical characteristics of the earth?

A:

Quick Answer

The Earth is the only planet known to support life. Although larger than the other inner planets, Earth is much smaller than the gas giants found in the outer solar system. Earth is a terrestrial planet with liquid water covering roughly 70 percent of its solid surface.

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Full Answer

The third planet from the Sun, the Earth has an atmosphere that contains both free oxygen and liquid water, two key elements needed to support life. The Earth rotates on an axis, an imaginary line running through the planet. The axis of the Earth is tilted to a degree that varies the amount of light and heat energy each hemisphere receives. These seasonal changes take place due to the shift in position experienced by the southern and northern hemispheres at different points in the Earth's orbit.

Earth's surface is known as the crust. The crust is composed mostly of alumino-silicates and makes up just 1 percent of the planet's total volume. While most of the planet's surface is covered in water, the crust also has several tectonic plates that float above the molten asthenosphere. These plates are able to float on the planet's crust because they have a lower density than material found within the planet's mantel.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What causes day and night on Earth?

    A:

    The Earth experiences days and nights as a result of the planet spinning on its axis. As the planet spins, the part that is facing the sun experiences day, while it is night for the part facing away from the sun.

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  • Q:

    Why is the Earth called "the blue planet"?

    A:

    The Earth is referred to as "the blue planet" because of the abundance of water on the planet. Over 70 percent of the Earth's surface is comprised of water, producing a vivid blue color when viewed from space.

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  • Q:

    Why does Earth support life?

    A:

    Earth supports life because it is the correct distance from the sun, its composition is rock, it has a molten core, it gains protection from its atmosphere and it has water. There are approximately 500 planets in the Milky Way capable of supporting life.

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  • Q:

    When will life on Earth end?

    A:

    According to astrobiologist Jack O'Malley-James of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, the sun will grow large enough to extinguish all life on Earth in roughly 2.8 billion years. The planet's non-microbial life will become extinct in 800 million to 1.3 billion years.

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