Earth can sometimes feel like the last place you’d want to be. Indeed, a number of explorers have devised inventive ways to move civilization off this planet.
It’s no surprise: The promise of a better life in the mysterious beyond can be seductive. But the fact is the more we learn about out there the more we realize how special it is here. The first astronauts to look from space back at Earth, a “pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known,” as scientist Carl Sagan once wrote, saw a beautiful, delicate world that is perfectly suited to the bounty of life it supports.
“When I looked up and saw the Earth coming up on this very stark, beat up lunar horizon, an Earth that was the only color that we could see, a very fragile looking Earth, a very delicate looking Earth, I was immediately almost overcome by the thought that here we came all this way to the Moon, and yet the most significant thing we’re seeing is our own home planet, the Earth,” said William Anders, a crew member on Apollo 8, the first crewed mission to the Moon.
On this 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, we reflect on nine reasons Earth is the best place to live:
- We can take deep, cleansing breaths
- There’s solid ground to stand on
- The seasons go round and round
- Its gravity doesn’t turn us into noodles
- We can enjoy a pleasant breeze
- It’s a sparkling globe of blue, white and green
- It’s got clear skies, sunny days and water we can swim in
- Dry land exists! And the entire world isn’t smothered beneath miles of ice
- Cream puff clouds that come and go
With more than 4,000 planets discovered so far outside our solar system, called “exoplanets,” we don’t know of any that offers the comforts of Earthly living — and many would be downright nightmares. Take Kepler-7b, for example, a gas giant with roughly the same density as foam board. That means it could actually float in a bathtub (fun fact: so could Saturn). Like other exoplanets called “hot Jupiters,” this one is really close to its star — a “year,” one orbit, takes just five Earth days. One side always faces the star, just like one side of the Moon always faces Earth. That means it’s always hot and light on one half of this planet; on the other, night never ends. If you’re bummed out by cloudy days on Earth, consider that one side of Kepler-7b always has thick, unmoving clouds, and those clouds may even be made of evaporated rock and iron. And at more than 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit (1,316 degrees Celsius), Kepler-7b would be a real roaster to visit, especially on the dayside. It’s amazing to learn about how different exoplanets can be from Earth, but we’re glad we don’t live on Kepler-7b. —Kristen Walbolt, digital and social media producer/strategist, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Source/Further Reading: Nasa