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Exploratour - The Archean Age

This drawing depicts the planets inside the solar nebula when the solar system formed.
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The Archean is the name of the age which began with the forming Earth, as illustrated in this picture. This period of Earth's history lasted a long time, 2.8 billion years! That is more than half the expected age of the Earth! And no one really can say what went on all that time. Nevertheless, a lot must have happened because Earth changed dramatically and evolved in a way that the neighboring planets did not. By the end of the Archean, the Earth was just beginning to come alive, but Mars was already a frozen ball with no life and no ocean. This tour is a presentation of all the things that happened in this age.

To set the stage, the solar nebula out of which the Earth & planets formed was just being cleared of gases still hanging around (as shown in this picture) by a powerful stellar wind from the newly formed Sun. This process blew away whatever the Earth had for an atmosphere to start with. Much of what we will describe next in the pages that follow happened together, there was not a specific sequence of events. To proceed with the tour, just press the forward link on the button at the top of the page. To read more about what sort of atmosphere the Earth may have started with, check the links at the bottom of this page.

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The Archean

The Archean is the name of the age which began with the forming Earth. The duration of the Archean, 2.8 billion years, is more than half the expected age of the Earth. We don't know much about this period,...more

Exploratour - Evolution of the Solar System

This page marks the beginning of section 2 of the tour, but it also marks the end of the tour for now. Come back later for more on the continuing evolution of the solar system. We've discussed the collapse...more

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

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