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Earth

Earth, our home planet, is a beautiful blue and white ball when seen from space. The third planet from the Sun, it is the largest of the inner planets. Earth is the only planet known to support life and to have liquid water at the surface. Earth has a substantial atmosphere and magnetic field, both of which are critical for sustaining life on Earth. Earth is the innermost planet in the solar system with a natural satellite our Moon. Explore our beautiful home planet unique in our solar system - through the links in this section.

This image is a montage of high resolutions photographs of the Earth taken in January 2012 by the Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument on the Suomi NPP satellite.  The image shows many stunning details of <a href="http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/earth.html">our home planet</a> - <a href="http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/multimedia/gallery/VIIRS_4Jan2012.jpg">particularly at high resolution</a>. The beauty of our planet is obvious from space - our blue <a href="http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/Water/overview.html">waters</a>, our white <a href="http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/Atmosphere/cloud.html">clouds</a>, and the green from <a href="http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/Life/life.html">life</a> abundant at the surface.<p><small><em>Image courtesy of NASA</em></small></p>A new study has found that <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/earth/Atmosphere/airpollution_intro.html&edu=high">pollution</a> from <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/earth/Atmosphere/particulates.html&edu=high">fine particles</a> in the air - mainly the result of burning coal or <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/earth/interior/eruptions.html&edu=high">volcanic eruptions</a> - can shade <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/earth/Life/cnidarian.html&edu=high">corals</a> from sunlight and cool the surrounding water resulting in reduced growth rates.  Coral growth rates in the Caribbean were affected by volcanic aerosol emissions in the early 20th century and by aerosol emissions caused by humans in the later 20th century.  For more information, see the <a href="http://www.exeter.ac.uk/news/featurednews/title_278202_en.html">press release</a>.<p><small><em>Image courtesy of Toby Hudson (Wikimedia Commons)</em></small></p>A sinuous glowing band of <a
  href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/earth/Magnetosphere/aurora.html&edu=high">aurora</a> (the Aurora Australis
  or Southern Lights) loops around the <a
  href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/earth/polar/polar_south.html&edu=high">southern polar</a>
region in the
  distance as viewed by astronauts onboard the space shuttle on <a
  href="http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/archives/sts-39.html">STS-039</a>. 
  <a
  href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/earth/Magnetosphere/aurora/aurora_colors.html&edu=high">Aurora are produced</a>
  when <a
  href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/physical_science/physics/atom_particle/particle_radiation.html&edu=high">energetic particles</a>
 entering the Earth's
  atmosphere from space interact with <a
  href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/physical_science/physics/atom_particle/atom.html&edu=high">atoms</a> and <a
  href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/earth/geology/molecule.html&edu=high">molecules</a> in the atmosphere and
  release energy, emitted as light.<p><small><em>Courtesy of NASA, Astronaut Overmeyer and Dr. Hallinan</em></small></p>Coral animals build reefs in warm, tropical seawater. However, <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/earth/changing_planet/ocean_temperatures_intro.html&edu=high">seawater can be too warm</a> for their liking.  If waters get too warm, coral animals lose the algae that live within their little bodies, a process called coral bleaching. Without the algae, corals have less nutrition. Unless cooler temperatures return, allowing algae to
 return, the coral dies.<p><small><em>Credit: UNC</em></small></p>An <a href="http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/Quakes/usc000905e.php">8.6 magnitude earthquake</a> struck on 11 April 2012 off of Banda Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia, followed by a strong aftershock.  Earthquake motion was primarily horizontal.  A tsunami warning was issued for the Indian Ocean, but was cancelled at 12:36 UTC.  A tsunami was observed at 1 meter or less. Find out more about <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/earth/geology/quake_1.html&edu=high">earthquake</a> and <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/earth/tsunami1.html&edu=high">tsunami</a> processes. Check out the resources <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/teacher_resources/2011_AGU-NESTA_GIFT_Workshop.html&edu=high">here</a>.<p><small><em>NOAA</em></small></p>How did life evolve on <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/earth/earth.html&edu=high">Earth</a> during the <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/earth/past/Archean.html&edu=high">Archean</a>, when the <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/sun/sun.html&edu=high">Sun</a> was about 25% weaker than today?  The Earth should have been <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/earth/polar/cryosphere_glacier1.html&edu=high">glaciated</a>, if <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/earth/climate/earth_greenhouse.html&edu=high">greenhouse</a> gas concentration was the same as today.  <a href="http://www.manchester.ac.uk/aboutus/news/display/?id=10798">Researchers</a> studying the <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/physical_science/physics/atom_particle/isotope.html&edu=high">isotopic</a> signatures of Earth's early atmosphere in <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/earth/geology/rocks_intro.html&edu=high">rocks</a> from Northern Australia have ruled out high levels of <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/physical_science/chemistry/nitrogen_molecular.html&edu=high">nitrogen</a> as a possible way to increase warming from <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/earth/Atmosphere/overview.html&edu=high">atmospheric</a> <a href="/php/tour_test_sqli.php?page=/physical_science/chemistry/carbon_dioxide.html&edu=high">carbon dioxide</a>.<p><small><em>Image courtesy of Manchester University</em></small></p>

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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