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The Evolution Of A Habitable Planet

4488 words - 18 pages

Are there other planets like Earth? Are there other planets that have humans, animals, bacteria and plant-life? Everyday people wake up and begin there day with little thought of the big picture and how they are actually able to begin their day. How did this planet evolve to allow organisms and animals like ourselves to thrive and expand? The evolution of Earth to what it is today was a long and detailed process. The process started from the initial formation of the Earth and its moon. Once the Earth formed, there are several different ingredients and questions that need to be answered to understand how Earth harnesses life. How did all of our water get here? How did Earth's weather evolve ...view middle of the document...

com, 2006). The formation of earth came along with the formation of the solar system and the "Big Bang". Earth came together by the collisions of numerous bodies that were either the same size or bigger than the moon. These collisions happened over the first 700 million years of Earth's history and became to be known as the heavy-bombardment period. (Kasting, Catling 2003,431)One of the most vital part's of earth's habitability is its moon. Scientists again used radiometric dating and the half-lives of Lutetium and Hafnium, both rare metals found on the moon, to determine that the Moon formed within 30 million years of the formation of the solar system. There are many theories of how the moon formed and there has not been one "universal" acceptable theory. Some think that the moon broke off from the Earth's crust leaving the Pacific Ocean behind as a scar. Others believe that it just formed elsewhere and was eventually caught into Earth's orbit. However, one theory that is widely agreed upon is the "Giant Impact" theory. This theory states that the moon formed as a result of a collision between Earth and another planet-size object that is often referred to as Theia. The main evidence supporting this hypothesis is that the composition of the moon resembles that of Earth's crust in the sense that it has a very small amount of heavy metals. (Wikipedia.com, 2006) The following graphic depicts the gradual attraction and collision between Earth and the planet-size object and the moon breaking off as a result:(wikipedia.com)The importance of the collision that caused the formation of the moon is within the velocity and angle of its impact. This unique impact created an unusual moon than many other planets do not have. Earth's unique moon has a great affect on stabilizing the Earth's tilt on its axis. This affects how it faces the heat of the sun. The key is that Earth's tilt makes sure that the sunlight is not concentrated on one small area all the time, thus allowing for "day and night" and the "seasons". If it was concentrated on the same area there would be little chance for life to form because of the extreme temperatures concentrated on their particular portions of the earth. Most of the Earth has an equal distribution of sunlight and darkness thus allowing for livable weather patterns. The following diagram illustrates how the sun is not concentrated on one small area of the Earth:(wikipedia.com)The moon has slowed down the earth's rotation period gradually and has allowed equal distribution of sunlight. The moon has also helped stabilize the change of the direction of earth's axis. It can be concluded that it might be extremely hard to find another planetary system with the same relation ship between their moon and planet that would stabilize its tilt towards the sun. (Kasting & Catling, 2003, 431)Once the Earth and Moon formed, then next step in becoming habitable is the presence and delivery of liquid water. The main concept studied to...

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