As far as we know, Earth is the only planet that is able to sustain life in our solar system. But what makes Earth such a perfect home for humans, animals, plants, bacteria, and insects alike? Read these Earth facts for kids to learn why there's no place like our home planet.
Earth Facts for Kids: What Makes Earth Special?
Earth Has Water on Its Surface
Water is one of the most special things about Earth. Scientists have not found another planet with liquid water quite like ours.
- Seventy-one percent of the Earth's surface is water, and most of it is oceans.
- Water formed on Earth 3.8 billion years ago and has remained liquid for most of the planet's existence.
- There is exactly enough water on the planet to sustain life without covering Earth's rocky landforms.
That's a perfect way to keep all of us alive on our planet!
Earth Has the Best Placement in the Solar System
If you've ever read "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," you know that Goldilocks likes things to be just right. That's why Earth is in the "Goldilocks Zone" — not too cold, not too hot, but just right!
- Earth is the third planet from the sun.
- It sits between Venus, which is burning hot from being so close to the Sun, and Mars, which is too cold to sustain life.
- Earth's temperature is perfect compared to its planetary neighbors, which keeps our water liquid and drinkable.
- Plus, huge outer planets like Jupiter block giant meteoroids from constantly hitting Earth, which was very helpful in our planet's first billion years of life. Thanks, Jupiter!
Earth Is Geologically Active
You're too small to feel how active the ground is under your feet, but the Earth's crust is constantly moving!
- Earth has four layers (inner core, outer core, mantle, and crust).
- Huge slabs under the Earth's crust are constantly moving, allowing rock to move from the mantle onto the surface of the Earth. This process is known as convection.
- You're most likely to see this activity in explosive volcanic eruptions, but in reality, magma from melted mantle is constantly moving in and out of the crust.
- All this tectonic activity regulates the surface temperature of Earth, which allows water to stay liquid.
Earth's Minerals Are Unique
Earth is also made of different stuff than other planets, mostly because we have water and living things. Some minerals, such as cobaltominite and abelsonite, are not found on other planets. The relationship between Earth's minerals and its presence of life is unique as well. The earliest life on Earth came about from the energy created by minerals breaking down. Those microbes created new, unique minerals, which created new, unique organisms. Those organisms produced oxygen, which led to the creation of the atmosphere where life thrives today. Rocks helped life to form, and life helps rocks to form!
Earth's Atmosphere Has Breathable Oxygen
Take a deep breath. Earth is the only place you can do that! Thanks to its variety of plant life, Earth is the only planet in the solar system with breathable oxygen in its atmosphere.
- Twenty-one percent of Earth's atmosphere is oxygen from plants.
- Seventy-eight percent is nitrogen, and the last 1% includes other elements like carbon dioxide and other gases.
- Weather occurs in the lowest layer of the atmosphere (troposphere).
- The ozone layer protects Earth from dangerous ultraviolet radiation from the upper layer of the atmosphere (stratosphere) but still allows the healthy rays of the Sun to warm our planet.
- Earth has its medium-small size to thank for its atmosphere — a smaller planet wouldn't be able to hold onto the atmosphere, and a larger planet might convert to a gas giant.
Earth Has Many Biomes
What do you, a mushroom and an elephant have in common? You're all alive — and you probably live in different places. Earth's water supply, rocky continents and atmosphere allow many different climates to exist. This allows for biodiversity all over the planet, which leads to the success of ecosystems. Life thrives on every continent on Earth because living organisms can eat, drink and reproduce in their biomes. These diverse systems have allowed organisms to adapt and evolve in order to best survive from generation to generation.
Earth Has Four Seasons
Ever wonder why some months are freezing cold and other months are nice and warm? Earth has four distinct seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall. Earth is not a perfect sphere (it's an oval-shaped ellipse), and it's slightly tilted in its rotation. This means the sun hits different parts of the Earth at different points in its 365-day orbit. For example, December and January are cold winter months in North America, but in Australia on the other side of the world, December is the first month of a warm summer season. That's because the Southern Hemisphere is slightly tilted toward the sun during these months. Not a bad time for a trip to Australia!
Earth Only Has One Moon
We're so used to seeing the moon in our night sky, but that space rock is pretty special.
- Earth is the only planet in the solar system with only one moon.
- Mercury and Venus each have none, Mars has two, Neptune has 14, Uranus has 27, Saturn has 53, and Jupiter has 79!
- The orbit of Earth's moon stabilizes the rotation of the planet and pulls ocean tides back and forth. Scientists believe that the movement of the tides enabled life to move from water to land billions of years ago. Quite a big job for one little moon!
Is Earth the Only Planet With Intelligent Life?
So is Earth really the best planet ever? Scientists believe that the perfect combination of all of these factors — the Earth's placement in the solar system, its oceans, its plate tectonics, its rotation and tilt, and its moon — are what allow intelligent life to grow on our planet. But Earth may not be the only perfect home out there! Check out these fascinating space facts for kids to learn more about what may be beyond the scope of our own atmosphere