Earth Rediscovered

From adolescence, we are taught that there is almost always fact or reason behind the phenomena of our planet earth. We are given reason for all of her happenings, along with an open appreciation for the facts provided to us by scholars and academia. Still and all, there is much that is yet to be discovered, and more that has yet to be explained. But one thing is certain: there is almost always explanation, though these explanations rarely subdue the majesty and grace of our enigmatic world.

 

Earth’s atmosphere is a feat of scientific wonder. It acts as a protective shield for all life on Earth. It absorbs the hazardous UV radiation from our Sun, while keeping the planetary surface comfortably temperate – which is crucial in order for our plant and animal life to thrive and survive. From retaining heat on the surface to cooling and reducing the extremes of climate conditions, the atmosphere plays an undeniable role in the sustenance of life. But what happens beyond the surface of the Earth?

 

If you were to travel into the Earth’s atmosphere – say, 10,000 feet from the surface – you would reach what is commonly referred to as the Troposphere. This is where weather occurs. Here, the temperature declines as altitude increases due to the conduction of heat radiated from Earth’s surface. Therefore, the lowest level of the

Troposphere will be warmer than the uppermost level, due to the increasing distance from Earth’s warmed surface. Although a seemingly trivial distance from ground-level, especially when considering the 10,000 km of atmosphere standing between us and the celestial world beyond our Exosphere, there are many changes that take place within the Troposphere, aside from a decreasing temperature. Compositionally, this atmospheric level consists of 85% of Earth’s mass, comprised of 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen, along with trace amounts of concentrated gasses.

planet1

This atmosphere is supportive of life here on Earth. There has been research to indicate similarities between Earth’s atmosphere and those of other planetary bodies. For example, take the atmosphere of Venus; Venus is identical to Earth when at an altitude of 50 to 60 kilometers. The pressure and temperatures of the atmosphere at this distance parallels that of Earth. Though still filled with toxic carbon dioxide, the atmospheric conditions would be calm enough to withstand human life, temporarily of course.

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However, the differences between the two planets are quite apparent. The lack of oxygen, the imbalance of pressure and temperature, and harsh physical environment of Venus would make it impossible for human and plant life to withstand for long periods of time. Though vastly different in many ways, it’s interesting, although highly overlooked, to note that there are incredible similarities in Venus’ atmosphere, as long as we know where to look for them. Sure, her surface may be uninhabitable, but her atmosphere changes with altitude, as does Earth’s. Though different, these planets share qualities that make them no less extraordinary. And although uninhabitable, the fact remains that the similarity is there. It is observable, therefore establishing the possibility of finding another atmosphere compatible with our own, and capable of sustaining life.

 

 

 

References

http://www.universetoday.com/14472/what-is-the-most-earth-like-planet/ http://www.space.com/17683-earth-atmosphere.html