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.

The massive 9.0 magnitude <a href="/earth/geology/quake_1.html&edu=high&dev=">earthquake</a> off of Honshu, Japan on <a href="/headline_universe/march112011earthquaketsunami.html&edu=high&dev=">11 March 2011</a> generated a <a href="/earth/tsunami1.html&edu=high&dev=">tsunami</a> that exceeded 10 meters on the coast near the epicenter.  This image shows model projections for the tsunami wave height in cm which are in good agreement with the observed waves. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were lost, and their families, as we remember this event.<p><small><em><a href="http://blogs.agu.org/wildwildscience/files/2011/03/680_20110311-TsunamiWaveHeight.jpg">NOAA Tsunami Wave Height Projections image</a></em></small></p>An image of Hurricane Sandy taken by the GOES-13 satellite on October 28.  This category 1 <a href="/earth/Atmosphere/hurricane/hurricane.html&edu=high&dev=">hurricane</a> was huge, spanning a horizontal distance of about one-third the US continental landmass.  The storm came onshore in New Jersey, and gradually moved northeast.  The storm disrupted the lives of tens of millions in the eastern US, doing billions of dollars in damage, resulting in over 30 deaths.  Visit the National Hurricane Center's webpage on <a href="http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/">Hurricane Sandy</a> for details.<p><small><em>Image courtesy of NASA</em></small></p>Sinkholes are <a href="/teacher_resources/main/frameworks/esl_bi8.html&edu=high&dev=">natural hazards</a> in many places around the world. They are formed when water dissolves underlying <a href="/earth/Water/carbonates.html&edu=high&dev=">limestone</a>, leading to collapse of the surface.  Hydrologic conditions such as a lack of rainfall, lowered water levels, or excessive rainfall can all contribute to sinkhole development. On 2/28/2013, a sinkhole suddenly developed under the house outside of Tampa, Florida, leading to the tragic death of its occupant, Jeff Bush.<p><small><em>Image courtesy of Southwest Florida Water Management District</em></small></p>A sinuous glowing band of <a
  href="/earth/Magnetosphere/aurora.html&edu=high&dev=">aurora</a> (the Aurora Australis
  or Southern Lights) loops around the <a
  href="/earth/polar/polar_south.html&edu=high&dev=">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="/earth/Magnetosphere/aurora/aurora_colors.html&edu=high&dev=">Aurora are produced</a>
  when <a
  href="/physical_science/physics/atom_particle/particle_radiation.html&edu=high&dev=">energetic particles</a>
 entering the Earth's
  atmosphere from space interact with <a
  href="/physical_science/physics/atom_particle/atom.html&edu=high&dev=">atoms</a> and <a
  href="/earth/geology/molecule.html&edu=high&dev=">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>Greenland's <a href="http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/polar/cryosphere_glacier1.html">ice sheet</a> saw a record <a href="http://www.windows2universe.org/headline_universe/olpa/greenland_10dec07.html">melt</a> in July 2012.  Scientists studying this event have found that this melting event was triggered by an influx of unusually warm air and amplified by the presence of a blanket of thin low-level <a href="http://www.windows2universe.org/earth/Atmosphere/cloud.html">clouds</a> which pushed temperatures up above freezing.  For more information see the <a href="http://www.news.wisc.edu/21638">press release</a> from the University of Wisconsin Madison.<p><small><em>Image courtesy of University of Wisconsin-Madison</em></small></p>This iconic image of Earth rising above the surface of the <a
  href="/earth/moons_and_rings.html&edu=high&dev=">Moon</a>,
  was taken on December 24, 1968 by astronauts on the <a
  href="/space_missions/apollo8.html&edu=high&dev=">Apollo 8
  mission</a>. Apollo 8 was the first <a
  href="/space_missions/manned.html&edu=high&dev=">manned
  mission</a> to the Moon, and entered into lunar orbit on Christmas Eve. That
  evening, the astronauts held a live broadcast from lunar orbit, in which they showed pictures of the Earth and moon as seen from their
  spacecraft.<p><small><em> Image courtesy of   NASA</em></small></p>

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