The Earth and Moon

In our night sky, there is one celestial body that is easy spot – the moon. Like a large, natural satellite, the moon orbits around our Earth and is brighter than any regular nighttime cosmic object. So what is the difference between our Earth and the moon? Here are some characteristics that distinguish these differences along with some similarities that you can share with your Cadets at home.

Photo by Blatant World

Photo by Blatant World

The first major difference is our atmosphere here on Earth. It holds in the essential gasses we need to breath and helps to distribute thermal energy so that our planet does not get too hot or too cold. It is an important part of what makes Earth livable. The moon has a very thin atmosphere, which causes wild temperatures. On the moon during the day it can exceed 200°F and can drop to as low as -280°F at night! That’s too hot and too cold for any human, plant or animal from Earth to live comfortably.

Gazing at the moon in the night sky, it is hard to tell how big it really is. It is actually only a little over a quarter the size of our Earth, which is smaller than all of the planets in our solar system, with the exception of the dwarf planet, Pluto. But, compared to its counterpart during the day, why does the moon seem about the same size as the sun? Not only is the moon 400 times smaller, but also it is also 400 times closer to the Earth than the sun is! This explains why they look similar in size in our sky.

Believe it or not, the moon wasn’t always a fixture that orbited the Earth. So how did it get there? Scientists believe that the moon was formed from a huge collision that blasted a chunk off of the Earth. The debris was caught in orbit and eventually formed the moon.
It is true that the moon brightens up our night sky, but that is not the only thing it helps Earth with. Acting along with the sun, the moon’s gravitational forces are responsible for our ocean’s high and low tides.

The Earth and the moon are very different in size, atmosphere, temperature, and even terrain. The Earth is a unique planet that supports life and the moon helps the Earth support that life. So although very different, the moon serves a beneficial purpose as it orbits the Earth.

Build Your Own Planet

What is a simply DIY craft project that you and your space-crazed kid can complete together? Try making this easy, mess-free solar system to hang in your Blaster’s room!

Materials

The materials you need to complete this galactic task are as follow:

  • Color paper
  • Scissors
  • Compass or several circular objects (mugs, bowls, plates, etc.)
  • Pencil
  • Fishing line
  • Stapler
  • Glue
  • Star-shaped stickers (optional)

StackedStapledFishing Line

Steps:

  1. To create our hometown, Earth, you will need blue, green, brown, and white colored paper.
  2. To be precise, you can set your compass’ width to be 7 cm, which means the diameter of your circles will be 14 cm in total. Or you can use a large mug instead, and trace the outline onto the colored paper by using your pencil.
  3. Using your scissors, cut out the circles. Then, fold them in half.
  4. As shown in the image, stack the paper and staple across the crease that you just folded to keep the paper intact
  5. Then, fold the paper backwards to create a 3-dimensional shape.
  6. Tie the fishing line around the center seem.
  7. Tie a knot and your Earth is completed!
  8. Optional: You can purchase star-shaped stickers and use it as a label for the planet and to cover up the knot you tied in step 7.
  9. Repeat steps 1 to 8 to create Saturn, but this time, use orange, yellow, brown, and white colored paper instead, and set your compass’ width to 10 cm, or find a bigger circular object.
  10. To create the ring, simply create two circles in white and brown respectively that are just a tiny bit smaller than the ones you did to create the spherical shape of Saturn.
  11. Glue them together by slightly overlapping them, and slide it over the 3D Saturn.
  12. Repeat steps 1 to 8 to create the other planets, but make sure you alter the measurement of your compass slightly to show the scale between the different planets.

Complete

Note:

  • The more circles you cut out, the more detailed your planets will look, but it will also be harder to staple all the paper together.
  • Assist your kid when using the compass – the sharp tip can be hazardous.

The Engulfing Power of Underwater Waves

We know that your Blaster likes to explore the galaxy and accomplish great dreams, but it is a great idea to encourage them to learn about the mechanics of their home, Earth, starting by learning the basics of Oceanography.

Recently, researchers found that the origins of the giant underwater waves that essentially has no effect on the surface of the ocean has an immense effect on the Earth’s climate and the marine ecosystem.

Photo by neekok.fi

Photo by neekok.fi

These internal waves resembles the shape of the towering waves we can see on the surface, and due to the temperature and density differences between the waves and the water around it, create a boundary between the bodies of water that produces changes to the ocean’s natural behavior.

As it is very difficult to detect these underwater waves, the new evidence found is profoundly important to help investigate this phenomenon further. The latest testing occurred at the South China Sea, and researchers found that the internal waves found here are the most powerful thus far, describing it as “skyscraper-scale waves”.

Discovering the origin of these waves can potentially reveal its possibility as the key mechanism for transferring heat from the upper part of the ocean to its depths. Therefore, it is important for the researchers to find out how these great waves are generated and perhaps shed some light on the research on global warming.

New Discovery: Young Planet Found Outside of Solar System

Have your Blaster been keeping up with the latest space happenings? It seems that a team of astronomers have discovered a giant planet, orbiting a single, sun-like star, right outside of our solar system. What’s most unique about this planet? It weighs 11 times more than Jupiter’s mass, and it is orbiting its star at 650 times the average Earth-Sun distance, which is a formation model that cannot be explained by present theories and knowledge.

Photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

This young planet is about 13 million years old, and it still glows from the heat that was created during its formation. Earth was created 4.5 billion years ago, which is 350 times older than this giant planet, known as HD 106906 b. Its temperature is about 2,700°F, which is much cooler than its host stars, and thus, emits most of its energy as infrared, not visible light.

Since this planet is orbiting very far from its parent star, astronomers are very puzzled and confused about its odd formation. None of the present theories sustained. This new discovery provided astronomers the opportunity to question planets’ formation, history, and composition.

Iron Melting in Earth’s Core Sheds Light on Geology Investigation

How much does your Blaster know about Earth’s history and structure? Recently, scientists used seismic waves to measure and explain the peculiar properties found in our planet’s inner core. This can be used as evidence to further our knowledge on geology and Earth Science. Let us take a look at the composition of Earth to have a better understanding of the significance of this discovery.

Photo by Blatant World

Photo by Blatant World

Chemically, our globe is divided into FIVE layers: crust, upper mantle, lower mantle, outer core, and inner core.

  1. Crust is essentially the outermost shell of our rocky planet
  2. Upper mantle is the layer beneath the crust, which is mechanically weak, and is mainly a solid but can melt at some point that turns it into liquid form
  3. Lower mantle is the buffer between the upper mantle and the outer core. It causes sharp increases in seismic wave velocities and has a high density, with firm rigidness.
  4. Outer core is a layer that is in liquid form, with a composition of iron and nickel. Depending on far the area is to the inner core, the temperature of the outer core can range from 8000°F to 11,000°F.
  5. Inner core is said to be the size of our Moon and is believed to be a solid ball made up of iron and nickel. Scientists found this layer to be distinctive to the other layers due to its property to deflect seismic waves when earthquake occurs. Since it is impossible to investigate this part of the Earth physically, scientists were only able to deduce a few facts.

What is fascinating about this new research is that scientists found that just before the iron starts to melt in the core, it becomes more yielding and less stiff, which creates a transverse motion, like the waves on a rope, rather than waves that moves through a spring. Scientists now have a better understanding of Earth’s inner core, but they continue to work on finding how other elements within the core can affect their geophysical measurements.

Man-made Earthquakes are now possible

Geologists have found a high-pressure mechanism that is believed to be the cause of very deep earthquakes on Earth. These earthquakes often occur at a depth that is more than 440 kilometers. The breakthrough news is that scientists can now simulate an earthquake in the laboratory by using the same mechanism.

Photo by Tim Evanson

Photo by Tim Evanson

The experiment has opened up doors for scientists to simulate the appropriate conditions within Earth, allowing them to record and analyze the man-made earthquakes in real time. This creates strong evidence that can be used to demonstrate the effect and accountability of the mechanism.

Shallow earthquakes, which are seismic movement is occurring at less than 50 km in depth, are caused very differently than deep earthquakes. It is said that these earthquakes are caused by the fracture of rocks in terms of short-term and abrupt cracks and friction. On the other hand, deep earthquakes occurs in high pressure and temperature conditions, and it is caused by the transformation of unstable olivine crystals to spinel, which is another high density mineral. Unlike the brittle fractures that cause shallow earthquakes, this transition causes rocks creep deformations or cold flow, which is created through long-term stress.

Photo by Kevin Walsh

Photo by Kevin Walsh

The seismologists argue that the major mechanism that creates the deep earthquakes in Earth is caused by the transitions of olivine and that they can re-create these “earthquakes” to justify their findings.

Planets, Stars, and Moons – Oh My!

We all know that our solar system is a vast and unexplored mystery. Throughout the years, scientists have collected data, conducted experiments and engaged in observations on our solar system. With this research, we have learned much about the different components that make up our universe. Some of the main objects that exist in space include planets, stars and moons. Although these three particular extraterrestrial objects are fairly familiar to many of us, do you really know the difference between them

Solar System

Earth is a planet because it is an object in space that orbits around a star. Each planet has different properties that might be more pronounced in one planet than another, such as density levels and chemical compositions. The various planets in our solar system vary in atmospheric pressure, distance from the sun, and even in color. For decades, scientists classified now dwarf planet Pluto as the ninth planet in our solar system. The International Astronomical Union set a refined definition of what it meant to be a “planet,” which excluded beloved Pluto from the list of eight other planets in our solar system.

Earth’s moon plays a role in our daily lives. However, moons, also known as natural satellites or secondary planets, also exist for and orbit around other planets in our solar system. Moons are referred to as “celestial bodies” that orbit around a planet. The planet, or any other smaller celestial object, is called the moon’s “primary.” All eight planets in our solar system have at least one satellite each, varying in size and other attributes.

To tie everything in our solar system together, we have the sun. The sun is a star, and it is the source of most of Earth’s energy. For clarification, a star is essentially a giant, glowing sphere of plasma that is kept intact by gravity. Some stars are visible from a human standpoint during the night, and these stars also group together in places to form constellations and other astronomical formations.

This basic knowledge about the solar system is sure to enrich your scientific knowledge so that you can help your child when the time comes for them to learn more about our solar system. Encourage your child to use their imagination, and perhaps design and name their own planet. Whatever interesting ideas your child comes up with, continue to help them find inspiration in all the things they learn.