Earth is one of the most important planets in the solar system because it is the only one that can sustain human life. All the other planets in our universe either consist of gases that humans cannot breathe or temperatures that are too high. Our planet is home to more than seven billion people and billions of animals. It is more than four billion years old and sits roughly 92 million miles from the sun. In this article, we’ll look at how much the Earth weighs, how experts determine the weight and some interesting facts about the planet.
How Much Does the Earth Weigh?
Instead of looking at the Earth’s weight, astronomers and other experts look at the planet’s mass.
The Earth has a mass of 6,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000 or 6 x 1024 kilograms.
No scale in the universe is large enough to register that weight, which is why experts use formulas to determine the planet’s weight. This formula uses some math principles as well as something called gravitational attraction. Gravitational attraction refers to how close planets and objects are to the Earth based on the gravity of the planet. Any two objects placed in proximity to each other have some type of attraction that pulls them together.
Sir Isaac Newton
The formula that experts used to determine the weight of the Earth relies heavily on the principles established by Sir Isaac Newton. Newton proved that spherical objects have a center that consists of most of the object’s mass. The force of the attraction between two objects is equal to the two objects multiplied and then divided by the square of their distance. This formula also includes an integer that remains constant, which you multiply against the final number. Though the formula sounds complicated, it gives experts an easy way to find the weight of a large mass such as the Earth.
Ranking the Planets by Mass
You might expect Earth to come out on top of a ranking in terms of mass, but it would land somewhere around the middle of that ranking. The largest planet in terms of mass alone is Jupiter, which has a mass nearly twice as big as the Earth. If you added the sun into this ranking, it would take the top spot. The sun has a larger mass than any planet and can fit several planets inside its borders. Next is Saturn and then Neptune. Earth ranks sixth on this list.
Planets Ranked by Size
An easy way to see how weight and mass compare is with a look at how the planets rank in terms of their sizes. This list finds Jupiter taking the top spot with a radius that is 1,120 percent larger than the radii of the Earth. Earth climbs to the fifth spot on this list because it is larger than other planets, even though it has a smaller mass than some. The smallest planet in the solar system is Mercury, which is 38 percent the size of the Earth.
Fun Facts About the Earth
A television series called 3rd Rock from the Sun poked fun at our planet. It featured aliens who arrived on the Earth and had to live among the humans who were three planets from the sun. The name comes from two Old English and Anglo Saxon terms that essentially mean ground and soil. You can fit multiple moons in a single Earth because the planet is so much larger than the moon. It also ranks as one of the universe’s densest planets due to both the crust and the core. To make up for the ¼ day that we gain every year, we have a Leap Day every four years.
Measuring the Earth
While you can stand on a scale and see how much you weigh, doing the same thing with a planet is impossible. The only way to find out how much the Earth weighs is through a formula that looks at the gravitational attraction and other factors. This formula helped experts determine the mass of the planet based on how far it was from other objects and a constant variable. Out of all the planets in the universe, Earth ranks as the fifth largest and the sixth biggest in terms of mass alone.