The Latest: The newest addition to the Earth science fleet is now in orbit. NASA’s Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) successfully launched from California at 9:02 a.m. EDT Saturday, Sept. 15, embarking on its mission to measure the Earth's ice with unprecedented accuracy. Ground stations acquired signals from the spacecraft about 75 minutes after launch and reported the spacecraft is orbiting the globe, from pole to pole, at 17,069 mph (about 27,000 kph) from an average altitude of 290 miles (465 kilometers).

    Go Farther. Explore Earth In Depth ›

    Ten Things to Know About Earth

    Ten Things to Know About Earth


    Measuring Up

    If the Sun were as tall as a typical front door, Earth would be the size of a nickel.


    Third Rock

    Earth orbits our Sun, a star. Earth is the third planet from the Sun at a distance of about 93 million miles (150 million km).


    As the World Turns

    A day on Earth is 24 hours. Earth makes a complete orbit around the sun (a year in Earth time) in about 365 days.


    We're On It

    Earth is a rocky planet with a solid and dynamic surface of mountains, canyons, plains and more. Most of our planet is covered in water.


    Breathe Easy

    Earth's atmosphere is 78 percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen and 1 percent other ingredients—the perfect balance to breathe and live.


    Our Cosmic Companion

    Earth has one moon.



    Earth has no rings.


    Orbital Science

    Many orbiting spacecraft study the Earth from above as a whole system—observing the atmosphere, ocean, glaciers, and the solid earth.


    Home, Sweet Home

    Earth is the perfect place for life as we know it.


    Protective Shield

    Our atmosphere protects us from incoming meteoroids, most of which break up in our atmosphere before they can strike the surface.

    Did You Know?

    Did You Know?

    First Earthling in Space
    The first being to travel to outer space was a female part-Samoyed terrier originally named Kudryavka (Little Curly) but later renamed Laika (Barker). She weighed about 6 kg. Image Credit: National Space Science Data Center

    Laika the dog was the first Earthling to orbit Earth aboard the Soviet Union's Sputnik 2 in 1957. She did not survive the trip. A few years later, the next two Soviet space dogs—Belka and Strelka—became the first living creatures to return from space alive—paving the way for future human explorers.

    Pop Culture

    Pop Culture

    Storytellers explore the nature of our planet and possible alternate realities in many books, movies and television shows. The iconic Planet of the Apes film (and many sequels) takes place in a future in which astronauts "discover" a planet inhabited by highly intelligent apes and primitive humans, only to realize later, much to their dismay, that—spoiler alert!—it was Earth all along.

    In the long-running and re-booted television series Battlestar Galactica, tired survivors of a war with highly evolved robots called cylons are on a quest to find Earth, a long-lost colony.

    In other stories, Earth has been abandoned or destroyed, such as in the Joss Whedon series Firefly or the book and its film adaptation The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. In the animated feature Titan A.E., Earth has been destroyed by an alien species, but a well-placed planet builder recreates it and all the species that live on it.

    Solar System in My Neighborhood

    Solar System Activity

    In this 1-hour activity, students shrink the scale of the vast solar system to the size of their neighborhood.

    More to Explore

    • Gummy Greenhouse Gases

      Build sweet models of the molecules of the gases that cause global warming. Eat them and save the day.

    • Make Your Own 3D Images

      You can create your own red/blue 3D images to print, or look at on a computer screen, using a normal digital camera and some image processing software.

    • Build Your Own 3D Glasses

      With a few materials and a few steps, you can build your own glasses to view 3D images.



    NASA Space Place: Earth

    NASA Earth Observatory

    NASA’s Climate Portal

    NASA Earth Science Division

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