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Earth & Space Topics Overview

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Earth & Space Topics Overview Introduction Our solar system consists of the Sun and the space surrounding it. Most of the space is virtually empty, but within it, there are the nine known planets and their moons. In addition, there are many millions of smaller objects: the asteroids and comets. These entire bodies orbit the Sun. Below is a diagram of our solar system. The solar system It is generally believed that our solar system formed nearly 5000 million years ago, from a cloud of interstellar gas and dust. Gravity caused the cloud to contract, with over 99.9% of the mass forming a young star (the Sun), at the centre of a flattened spinning disc. The planets formed within the spinning disc, and as a result, they all orbit the Sun in the same direction. All of the planets except Pluto orbit in the same plane (to within a few degrees), as would be expected from the 'spinning disc' model. Pluto's orbit, however, is tilted by about 17� to the plane of the Earth's orbit. This has led to speculation about Pluto's origin. Orbits Each planet has its own path around the Sun, called its orbit. The Sun is enormous thus; it has a very strong gravitational pull on the planets. Orbits are the paths, which planets move in due to the pull of the Sun. The further out you go, the weaker it pulls. The orbits of the planets are elliptical (elongated) ...read more.


This is because of the effects off erosion and sandblasting. Therefore, the Earth's surface is geologically quite new. By contrast, the inactive Moon has been unchanged for 3000 million years. Satellites The term satellite refers essentially to one thing--a small body, natural or artificial, that revolves around a larger astronomical object. Data gathered from these satellites help us learn about the environment, the world, and the universe. The exciting new technologies being developed from these satellites have additional applications that benefit life on Earth. Satellites of 1960's: During the 1960's, satellite use began to flourish for the regular use of humans. In August 1960, the United States launched Echo I; this satellite reflected radio signals to Earth making satellite communication possible. Also in April in 1960, Tiros I was sent out to space. Tiros was the first weather satellite that sent pictures of clouds to Earth. The U.S. navy developed the first navigation satellite, the Transit IB navigation satellite that first orbited in April 1960. By 1965, more than 100 satellites were being placed in orbit each year. Satellites of 1970's: During the 1970's, there was innovation in the satellite world. New and more effective satellite instruments were being used. They have made use of computers and miniature electronic technology in satellite design and construction. Satellites of 1980's: During the 1980's, satellites were used to save people and other satellites. ...read more.


Surveillance Lastly, an interesting satellite use is in the field of surveillance or spy satellites. There are four kinds of major satellites (White 100). The most commonly used one, reconnaissance use cameras to take pictures of a particular place from up above. They also have radar and infrared detectors so they can detect things in the dark or things that are covered by something or camouflage. Most of Russia's reconnaissance is known as COSMOS, the U.S. first one was called Big Bird. Ocean Surveillance satellites are used to search for ships or submarines. They can spot nuclear vessels. In addition, new advancements may allow them to scan the depths of the ocean. Early warning and "Elint" satellites are primarily used by the armed forces. These protect countries from sneak attacks, and can be used to detect if other countries are building or storing nuclear warheads. Elint is the basic spy satellite it picks up radio transmissions, and maps location of countries defense bases. It is the most important military satellite because it does not let another country to put together an attack without another country knowing. Conclusion As you can see satellites are integral parts of everyday life. They have thousands of uses and perform it without most ever being seen. Just think now how many satellite dishes you have seen on top of a house and that are just one aspect. Satellites are becoming increasingly advanced every year and will lead the way into the 21st century. Aleemuddin Mohammad Khan Page 1 02/05/2007 ...read more.

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