What Earth is made up of?
Earth is made up of particles and elements capable of supporting life
The planet Earth is the only planet in the solar system that has the capability to give and support life of every living organism – the “living planet”. The planet Earth is the 3rd planet from the sun (after Mercury and Venus) and the largest among the group of terrestrial planets, Earth is the densest and the 5th largest planet in the solar system in terms of mass – large enough to contain all living organisms exist in the universe. But what makes Earth a living planet? What is planet earth made up of?
Components of Earth
The Earth’s Atmosphere
From the outside, the earth is surrounded by a thick blanket made entirely of air called atmosphere. The atmosphere is one of the most important components of Earth for so many reasons – majority of them are vital for survival. Atmosphere is made up of various types of gases acting as the shield from excessive heat from the sun and debris from the outer space. The atmosphere regulates the amount of sunlight so that organism inside the Earth won’t feel burning heat during daytime and extreme cold temperatures at night.
The atmosphere is made up of various gases essential for breathing and photosynthesis for plants. Among the most abundant gases (by volume) are nitrogen (78%), oxygen (21%), argon (1%), carbon dioxide (0.039%) and little amount of other traces of gas such as helium and neon (1%). Furthermore, Earth’s atmosphere is divided into different layers distinguished by the changes in temperature occurring on that atmospheric region.
- Exosphere (500 km from earth) – the uppermost layer of the earth’s atmosphere that merges into the outer space. Communication satellites are normally stationed in this layer of the atmosphere.
- Thermosphere (80-110 km from earth) – the layer below the exosphere, thermosphere is the layer where space shuttles fly.
- Mesosphere (80 km from earth) – the middle layer of the earth’s atmosphere, mesosphere is the coldest region of the earth’s atmosphere with temperature reached -90C. Air is also very thin in this region.
- Stratosphere (50 km from earth) – is the area where 90% of the ozone layer is located. Ozone layer is the area that absorbs harmful radiations coming from the sun.
- Troposphere (11km from earth) – the closest layer from the earth, troposphere contains most of the gases and water vapor found in the atmosphere. Changes in the weather occur in this layer.
Same with the earth’s atmosphere, the interior earth’s structure is also divided into three main layers.
- Crust – the outermost layer of the earth’s interior with thickness about 70 km (1% by earth’s volume), crust is the part of the earth where living organisms live and primarily made up of igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. 75% of the earth’s crust is made up of water in forms of oceans, seas, lakes etc. Numerous elements are present in the earth’s crust and among them includes Oxygen (46.6%), Silicon (28%), Aluminum (8.1%), Iron (5%), Calcium (4%) Sodium (3%), Potassium (2.6%), Magnesium (2%), and small traces of other elements such as Lithium and Boron (2%).
- Mantle – the layer below the earth’s crust, mantle is the thickest layer about 2,890km thick (84% of earth volume). Mantle is a rocky body (silicate rocks) made up of elements such as aluminum, silicon, oxygen, iron, magnesium and more. Temperature in mantle is relatively high because of its composition.
- Core – the innermost layer of the earth, it was believed that denser materials on earth are found in this part of earth. The earth’s core is also divided into two layers; the outer core and the inner core.
Outer Core – outer core is a liquid layer primarily composed of iron and nickel and about 2,260km thick. Outer core lies between mantle and the solid part of core or the inner core. Temperature in the outer core could reach as high as 4,400 Celsius.
Inner Core – the innermost part of the earth with thickness about 1,220 km, inner core is the hottest part of the earth according to seismological studies with temperature reaching up to 5,430 Celsius. The inner core is made up of an alloy of iron and nickel.
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