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This is an image of the ocean floor of the Earth, showing mountain ranges, subduction trenches, tectonic plates, and mid-ocean ridges.
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Image from: U.S. Geological Survey

Cooling History

A Planet or a moon cools off slowly in time, just like the sidewalk cools off in the evening after a sunny day. The warmth contained inside a planet or moon controls what sort of activity the planet or moon has in the atmosphere or surface. As planetary bodies cool slowly, heat diminishes, and the activities diminish to nothing. Examination of a planet or moon for various kinds of activities tells scientists what stage a body is in it's history of cooling off.

Planets or moons get energy from

Energy from item (2) in this list causes the continents to drift slowly around the surface of the Earth.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA