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Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. About 29% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remaining 71% is covered with water, mostly by oceans but also by lakes, rivers and other fresh water, which together constitute the hydrosphere. Much of Earth's polar regions are covered in ice. Earth's outer layer is divided into several rigid tectonic plates that migrate across the surface over many millions of years. Earth's interior remains active with a solid iron inner core, a liquid outer core that generates Earth's magnetic field, and a convecting mantle that drives plate tectonics.

According to radiometric dating estimation and other evidence, Earth formed over 4.5 billion years ago. Within the first billion years of Earth's history, life appeared in the oceans and began to affect Earth's atmosphere and surface, leading to the proliferation of anaerobic and, later, aerobic organisms. Some geological evidence indicates that life may have arisen as early as 4.1 billion years ago. Since then, the combination of Earth's distance from the Sun, physical properties and geological history have allowed life to evolve and thrive. In the history of life on Earth, biodiversity has gone through long periods of expansion, occasionally punctuated by mass extinctions. Over 99% of all species that ever lived on Earth are extinct. Almost 8 billion humans live on Earth and depend on its biosphere and natural resources for their survival. Humans increasingly impact Earth's hydrology, atmospheric processes and other life.

Earth's atmosphere consists mostly of nitrogen and oxygen. Tropical regions receive more energy from the Sun than polar regions, which is redistributed by atmospheric and ocean circulation. Greenhouse gases also play an important role in regulating the surface temperature. A region's climate is not only determined by latitude, but also by its proximity to moderating oceans and height among other factors. Extreme weather, such as tropical cyclones and heat waves, occurs in most areas and has a large impact on life.

Earth's gravity interacts with other objects in space, especially the Sun and the Moon, which is Earth's only natural satellite. Earth orbits around the Sun in about 365.25 days. Earth's axis of rotation is tilted with respect to its orbital plane, producing seasons on Earth. The gravitational interaction between Earth and the Moon causes tides, stabilizes Earth's orientation on its axis, and gradually slows its rotation. Earth is the densest planet in the Solar System and the largest and most massive of the four rocky planets.

Earth Media

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ISS042E135486 (01/10/2015) --- Just another sunny day in the Caribbean sea as viewed by astronauts aboard the International Space Station. This image was tweeted out by NASA astronaut Terry Virts as he captured the Earth observation of #Cuba and #Bahamas on Jan. 10, 2015. iss042e135486

ISS042E135486 (01/10/2015) --- Just another sunny day in the Caribbean...

ISS042E135486 (01/10/2015) --- Just another sunny day in the Caribbean sea as viewed by astronauts aboard the International Space Station. This image was tweeted out by NASA astronaut Terry Virts as he captured... more

Panel from a Sarcophagus Depicting the Abduction of Persephone

Panel from a Sarcophagus Depicting the Abduction of Persephone

This panel—once the long side of a sarcophagus, or coffin––depicts the abduction of the maiden Persephone by Hades, the Greek god of the underworld. On the left, Demeter, the Greek goddess of the harvest, drive... more

Figure of an Earth Spirit

Figure of an Earth Spirit

Tang dynasty (618–907)

Vessel of the Dancing Lords

Vessel of the Dancing Lords

According to ancient Maya belief, after several failed attempts the gods succeeded in populating the earth when they created humanity out of maize, the staff of life. In the Popol Vuh, a sixteenth-century epic ... more

New Earth from BL Royal 19 B XV, f. 40v

New Earth from BL Royal 19 B XV, f. 40v

Miniature of an angel and the vision of the New Earth, and a miniature of John with an angel and the vision of the New Sea, illustrating Revelation 21:1. Image taken from f. 40v of Apocalypse, with commentary (... more

Ritual Cache

Ritual Cache

Discovered wrapped and hidden in a remote, dry cave, this cache of ritual figures comes from the Salado culture, which flourished in the mountains of southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona between the... more

Heaven and Earth from BL Royal 19 B XV, f. 40v

Heaven and Earth from BL Royal 19 B XV, f. 40v

Detail of a miniature of the new Heaven and Earth, and the new Jerusalem. Image taken from f. 40v of Apocalypse, with commentary (The 'Queen Mary Apocalypse'), with the prologue of Gilbert de la Porrée translat... more

Diagram of the earth from BL Royal 19 C I, f. 48v

Diagram of the earth from BL Royal 19 C I, f. 48v

Diagram of the dimensions of the earth. Image taken from f. 48v of Breviari d'Amor. Written in French (Occitan) (Provencal).

New Heaven and Earth from BL Royal 15 D II, f. 198v

New Heaven and Earth from BL Royal 15 D II, f. 198v

Detail of a miniature of John standing in witness before the revelation of the New Heaven and the New Earth, in illustration of Revelation 21:1. Image taken from f. 198v of La lumiere as lais; Apocalypse (the '... more

John and the beast from the earth from BL Royal 15 D II, f. 160

John and the beast from the earth from BL Royal 15 D II, f. 160

Detail of a miniature of John and four worshippers standing before the beast from the earth, with two horns, in illustration of Revelation 13:11. Image taken from f. 160 of La lumiere as lais; Apocalypse (the '... more

God creating the Earth from BL Royal 17 E VII, f. 3

God creating the Earth from BL Royal 17 E VII, f. 3

Detail of a miniature of God creating the Earth. Image taken from f. 3 of La Bible historiale complétée (Genesis - Psalms). Written in French.

Creation of the earth from BL Royal 15 D III, f. 4

Creation of the earth from BL Royal 15 D III, f. 4

Miniature of the creation of the earth. Image taken from f. 4 of Bible historiale, the early version. Written in French.

Shadows of the earth from BL Royal 19 A IX, f. 104

Shadows of the earth from BL Royal 19 A IX, f. 104

Miniature of diagrams to show the shadow of the earth. Image taken from f. 104 of L'image du Monde. Written in French.

[Earth, the sun, and moon carried on dragon's back below title in decorative border]

[Earth, the sun, and moon carried on dragon's back below title in deco...

Title page in: Astronomicum caesareum / Petrus Apianus. [Ingolstadii, 1540] Published in: The tradition of science / Leonard C. Bruno. Washington, D.C. : Library of Congress, 1987, p.43.

[Medieval depiction of earth as wheel encircled by ocean; and surrounding text]

[Medieval depiction of earth as wheel encircled by ocean; and surround...

Illus. in: Etymologiae / Saint Isidorus, Bishop of Seville. G. Zainer, 1472. Ref. copy in: The tradition of science / Leonard C. Bruno. Washington, D.C. : Library of Congress, 1987, p. 7.

[Medieval universe, with heaven above, bands containing stars, and earth below]

[Medieval universe, with heaven above, bands containing stars, and ear...

Illus. in: Buch der natur / Konrad von Megenberg. Augsburg : Johann Bamier, 1481. Ref. copy in: The tradition of science / Leonard C. Bruno. Washington, D.C. : Library of Congress, 1987, p. 8.

Permanebit in Terris (Continue on Earth)

Permanebit in Terris (Continue on Earth)

Anonymous, Italian, 16th century

[An illustration of the Ptolemaic concept of the universe showing the earth in the center]

[An illustration of the Ptolemaic concept of the universe showing the ...

Woodcut from Jan Glogowczyk's Introductarium copendiosum in Tractatu...Cracow, 1513. Reference copy may be available in LOT 7007. This record contains unverified, old data from caption card. Caption card tracin... more

[Title page of De revolutionibus orbium coelstium, with statement that the sun, and not the earth, is the center of our universe]

[Title page of De revolutionibus orbium coelstium, with statement that...

Title page in: De revolutionibus orbium coelestium / Nicolaus Copernicus. Norimbergae : Apud I. Petreium, 1543. Published in: The tradition of science/ Leonard C. Bruno. Washington, D.C. : Library of Congress, ... more

[Solar system diagram with seven planets in circular orbits, the earth as number V, Telluris; and surrounding text]

[Solar system diagram with seven planets in circular orbits, the earth...

Illus. and text in: Da revolutionibus orbium coelestium / Nicolaus Copernicus. Norimbergae : Apud I. Peteium, 1543. Published in: The tradition of science / Leonard C. Bruno. Washington, D.C. : Library of Congr... more

[Atlas, dressed like an ancient king, holding earth centered universe on his shoulders]

[Atlas, dressed like an ancient king, holding earth centered universe ...

Illus. in: The cosmographical glasse / William Cuningham. Excusum Londini : I Day, 1559. Published in: The tradition of science / Leonard C. Bruno. Washington, D.C. : Library of Congress, 1987, p. 16.

Vniversale descrittione di tvtta la terra conoscivta fin qvi.

Vniversale descrittione di tvtta la terra conoscivta fin qvi.

Relief shown pictorially. Based on an earlier map by Giacomo Gastaldi. From the Rosenwald Collection, Library of Congress, no. 1304. Originally printed on 2 sheets, each 48 x 40 cm. Available also through the L... more

[Geometric figure of earth, sun, and moon calculated by Aristarchus to approximate real scale of the solar system]

[Geometric figure of earth, sun, and moon calculated by Aristarchus to...

Illus. in: De magnitudinibus, et distantiis solis, et lunae / Aristarchus of Samos. Pisauri : Apud. C. Francischinum, 1572, p. 30. Published in: The tradition of science / Leonard C. Bruno. Washington, D.C. : L... more

Typvs orbis terrarvm

Typvs orbis terrarvm

Available also through the Library of Congress Web site as a raster image. Acquisitions control no. 18-85

[Diagram of Gilbert's terella, or earth model, a spherical magnet used to show earth's magnetic qualities; with decorated initial C and surrounding text]

[Diagram of Gilbert's terella, or earth model, a spherical magnet used...

Illus. and text in: De Magnete / William Gilbert. London : Excudebat P. Short, 1600. Published in: The tradition of science / Leonard C. Bruno. Washington, D.C. : Library of Congress, 1987, p. 277.

The Elements: Earth

The Elements: Earth

Attributed to the workshop of Christoph Murer (Swiss, Zurich 1558–1614 Winterthur)

Tipus orbis terrarum

Tipus orbis terrarum

Relief shown pictorially. Includes ancillary maps of America, Europe, Africa, and Asia in border. Available also through the Library of Congress Web site as a raster image. Vault

[Terrestrial globe gores].

[Terrestrial globe gores].

Relief shown pictorially. Title supplied by cataloger. Reissued by Giuseppe di Rossi in 1615. Dedication in upper hemisphere: Illmo. viro optimaraq. artium amatori et Fautori D. Paulo Mellino Romano ... In lowe... more

[Musical scales or range of sound ascribed by Kepler to Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Earth, Venus, and Mercury; and surrounding text]

[Musical scales or range of sound ascribed by Kepler to Saturn, Jupite...

Illus. and text in: Harmonices mundi / Johann Kepler. Lincii Austriae : J. Plancus, 1619, p. 207. Published in: The tradition of science / Leonard C. Bruno. Washington, D.C. : Library of Congress, 1987, p. 35.

Earth, plate one from The Four Elements

Earth, plate one from The Four Elements

This four-sheet series on the elements earth, air, fire, and water offers an updated view of the antique categories for understanding the natural world by demonstrating the types of nourishment the elements pro... more

Typvs orbis terrarvm

Typvs orbis terrarvm

Relief shown pictorially. Includes text. Available also through the Library of Congress Web site as a raster image. Acquisitions control no. 19-85 Vault

Earth

Earth

Abraham Bosse (French, Tours 1602/1604–1676 Paris)

[Sphendonē], hoc est, fvnda Posidonii.

[Sphendonē], hoc est, fvnda Posidonii.

From Bertius' Ancient Geography. Paris, 1630. In Latin and Greek. Available also through the Library of Congress Web site as a raster image.

Vniversale descrittione di tvtto il monde /

Vniversale descrittione di tvtto il monde /

Relief shown pictorially. Probably the second state of the map. Differs from the first state in the reworking of Tierra del Fuego to include the Straits of Magellan. Presents Staten Island, west of Tierra del F... more

Earth, four figures in foreground to left, hills to left in the background, many trees to right in the background, a horseman in center in the background, from 'The four elements' (Les quatre Eléments)

Earth, four figures in foreground to left, hills to left in the backgr...

Stefano della Bella (Italian, Florence 1610–1664 Florence)

Earth

Earth

Abraham Bosse (French, Tours 1602/1604–1676 Paris)

West-Indische paskaert waer in de graden der breedde over weder zijden vande middellijn wassende so vergrooten dat die geproportioneert sijn tegen hunne nevenstaende graden der lengde. vertonende behalve Europaes zuydelijcste alle de seekusten van Africa en America, begrepen in 't Octroy bij de H.M.H. Staten Generael der vereenigde Nederl. verleent aende Generale West Indische Compagnie.

West-Indische paskaert waer in de graden der breedde over weder zijden...

Shows the west coast of North America from Belle Isle, Newfoundland, both coasts of South America, mediterranean Europe, and the east coast of Africa. Includes illustrations. Available also through the Library ... more

Allegory of Earth

Allegory of Earth

Charles Le Brun (French, Paris 1619–1690 Paris)

La carte générale du monde

La carte générale du monde

Relief shown pictorially. Includes text, 2 celestial hemispheres, 3 compasses, and latitudinal sphere. Available also through the Library of Congress Web site as a raster image. Acquisitions control no. 26-86 Vault

[Nova et accuratissima totius terrarum orbis tabula].

[Nova et accuratissima totius terrarum orbis tabula].

Relief shown pictorially. Available also through the Library of Congress Web site as a raster image. Includes col. ill. in margins. Vault

Orbis terrarum nova et accuratissima tabula /

Orbis terrarum nova et accuratissima tabula /

Relief shown pictorially. Appears in the author's Atlas minor. Amsterdam, 1690? Includes ancillary maps of north polar region and south polar region and col. ill. Mounted on cloth. LC copy imperfect: Fold-lined... more

Maan- en eclipswijzer

Maan- en eclipswijzer

Cirkelvormige aanduiding van de stand van de maan op de verschillende dagen van het jaar.

[Christ standing above views of the earth showing its formation and predicting a final conflagration]

[Christ standing above views of the earth showing its formation and pr...

Frontispiece in: Telluris theoria sacra / Thomas Burnet. Amstelaedami : Apud J. Wolters, 1699. Published in: The tradition of science / Leonard C. Bruno. Washington, D.C. : Library of Congress, 1987, p. 205.

Earth (one of four)

Earth (one of four)

One of a set of four representing the elements (07.225.445a–d).

Earth

Earth

Claude Augustin Duflos le Jeune (French, Paris 1700–1786 Paris)

One of the Sons of Noah who Goes to Populate a Part of the Earth
A new and correct map of the world : laid down according to the newest observations & discoveries in several different projections including the trade winds, monsoons, variation of the compass, and illustrated with a coelestial planisphere, the various systems of Ptolomy, Copernicus, and Tycho Brahe together with ye apearances of the planets &c. /

A new and correct map of the world : laid down according to the newest...

Relief shown pictorially. Insets: The northern hemisphere upon the plane of the Equinoctial -- The northern coelestial hemisphere -- A projection of ye world upon equidistant meridians and parallels -- The nort... more

Mappe-monde ou carte générale de la terre

Mappe-monde ou carte générale de la terre

Hand colored. Includes 9 portraits. LC copy annotated in black ink in upper right margin: 6. Available also through the Library of Congress Web site as a raster image.