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Learn about planets outside our solar system through Exoplanets and Alien Solar Systems by Tahir Yaqoob, Ph.D., a book in our online store book collection.

Exploratour - Life on Earth

Autumn Foliage
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of Corel Photography

Kingdom Plantae contains nearly 300,000 different kinds of plants. Although this does not make it the largest kingdom, many might argue that it is the most important one.

In the process known as "photosynthesis", plants use the energy of the Sun to make food and oxygen. This complex chemical reaction provides nearly all the oxygen in Earth's atmosphere and all the food required by living things. Although some protists and bacteria are capable of performing photosynthesis, plants do most of the photosynthesis on Earth.

The ancestors of plants first appeared in the seas nearly 700 million years ago. Another 265 million years passed before the first plants appeared on land. These early land plants looked very different than the plants you're familiar with today. In fact, many of them didn't even have roots, stems, or leaves! Since then, plants have taken on a variety of forms and are found in most places on Earth.

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ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

Even though the sleeping man is no longer on the bed, you can still see where he was lying down. The heat from his body warmed up the bed sheets which are now radiating infrared light toward your eyes....more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

All warm objects radiate in the infrared. The warmer the object, the higher the frequency and intensity of the radiation. Very hot objects give off other types of radiation in addition to infrared. Click...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

Your eye is a wonderful detector of visible light. Different frequencies of light produce different sensations in the eye which we interpret as colors. Our eyes detect light by using light sensitive components...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

Imagine you found a pair of special glasses that not only gave you telescopic vision but gave you the ability to see all forms of radiant energy. The universe in visible light contains all the familiar...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

This is a volcano on the island of Miyake in Japan. It has erupted, sending hot lava and ash into the air, a total of ten times. The time after one eruption until the next occurred was about twenty years...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

The awesome power of a giant black hole was revealed by looking at this galaxy in three different types of light. The picture that you see is of Centaurus A, a very peculiar galaxy. A galaxy is just a...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

This is a plant in Gary, Indiana where power is made. We use power to run things like television sets, radios, lights, and microwave ovens. The picture looks very strange because it was taken in infrared....more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF