# Earth in Space. Guide for Reading How does Earth move in space? What causes the cycle of seasons on Earth?

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1 Earth in Space How does Earth move in space? What causes the cycle of seasons on Earth? The study of the moon, stars, and other objects in space is called astronomy. Ancient astronomers studied the movements of the sun and moon. They thought Earth was standing still and the sun and moon were moving. The sun and moon seem to move mainly because Earth is rotating on its axis, the imaginary line that passes through Earth s center and the North and South poles. The spinning of Earth on its axis is called its rotation. Earth s rotation on its axis causes day and night. It takes Earth about 24 hours to rotate once on its axis. The movement of one object around another object is called revolution. Earth completes one revolution around the sun once every year. Earth s path as it revolves around the sun is called its orbit. Earth s orbit is a slightly elongated circle, or ellipse. Many cultures have tried to make a workable calendar. A calendar is a system of organizing time that defines the beginning, length, and divisions of a year. This is not easy because Earth takes about 365 1/4 days to circle the sun, and 12 moon cycles make up fewer days than a calendar year. Sunlight hits Earth s surface most directly at the equator. Closer to the poles, sunlight hits Earth s surface at an angle. That is why it is generally warmer near the equator than near the poles. Earth has seasons because its axis is tilted as it moves around the sun. Earth s axis is tilted at an angle of 23.5 from vertical. As Earth revolves around the sun, its axis is tilted away from the sun for part of the year and toward the sun for part of the year. When the north end of Earth s axis is tilted toward the sun, the Northern Hemisphere has summer. At the same time, the south end of Earth s axis is tilted away from the sun. As a result, the Southern Hemisphere has winter. The hemisphere tilted toward the sun has more daylight hours than the hemisphere tilted away from the sun. The combination of direct rays and more hours of sunlight heats the surface more than at any other time of the year. On two days each year, the sun reaches its greatest distance north or south of the equator. Each of these days is known as a solstice. Halfway between the solstices, neither hemisphere is tilted toward the sun. On those two days, the noon sun is directly overhead at the equator. Each of these days is known as an equinox, meaning equal night. During an equinox, the length of nighttime and daytime are about the same.

2 Gravity and Motion What determines the strength of the force of gravity between two objects? What two factors combine to keep the moon and Earth in orbit? Earth revolves around the sun in a nearly circular orbit. The moon orbits Earth in the same way. But what keeps Earth and the moon in orbit? Why don t they just fly off into space? The first person to answer these questions was the English scientist Isaac Newton. Newton told a story about how watching an apple fall from a tree in 1666 had made him think about the moon s orbit. Newton realized that there must be a force acting between Earth and the moon that kept the moon in orbit. A force is a push or a pull. Newton hypothesized that the force that pulls an apple to the ground also pulls the moon toward Earth, keeping it in orbit. This force, called gravity, attracts all objects toward each other. In Newton s day, most scientists thought that forces on Earth were different from those elsewhere in the universe. Although Newton did not discover gravity, he was the first to realize that gravity occurs everywhere. Newton s law of universal gravitation states that every object in the universe attracts every other object. The strength of gravity is measured in units called newtons, named after Isaac Newton. The strength of the force of gravity between two objects depends on two factors: the masses of the objects and the distance between them. According to the law of universal gravitation, all of the objects around you are pulling on you. Why don t you notice this pull? Because the strength of gravity depends, in part, on the masses of the objects. Mass is the amount of matter in an object. Because Earth is so massive, it exerts a much greater force on you than a book does. Similarly, Earth exerts a gravitational pull on the moon, large enough to keep the moon in orbit. The force of gravity on an object is known as its weight. An object s weight can change depending on its location. For example, on the moon, you would weigh about one-sixth of your weight on Earth. This is because the moon is much less massive than Earth, so the pull of its gravity on you would be much less. The tendency of an object to resist a change in motion is inertia. Isaac Newton stated his ideas about inertia as a scientific law. Newton s first law of motion says that an object at rest will stay at rest and an object in motion will stay in motion with a constant speed and direction unless acted on by a force. Why do Earth and the moon remain in their orbits? Newton concluded that two factors inertia and gravity combine to keep Earth in orbit around the sun and the moon in orbit around Earth. Earth s gravity keeps pulling the moon toward it, preventing the moon from moving in a straight line. At the same time, the moon keeps moving ahead because of its inertia. If not for Earth s gravity, inertia would cause the moon to move off through space in a straight line. In the same way, Earth revolves around the sun because the sun s gravity pulls on it while Earth s inertia keeps it moving ahead.

4 Earth s Moon What features are found on the moon s surface? What are some characteristics of the moon? How did the moon form? In 1609, the Italian scientist Galileo Galilei heard about a telescope, a device built to observe distant objects by making them appear closer. Galileo made his own telescope by putting two lenses in a wooden tube. When Galileo pointed his telescope at the moon, he was able to see much more detail than anyone had ever seen. Recent photos of the moon show much more detail than Galileo could see with his telescope. Features on the moon s surface include craters, maria, and highlands. The moon s surface has dark, flat areas, which Galileo called maria, the Latin word for seas. Galileo incorrectly thought that the maria were oceans. The maria are actually hardened rock formed from huge lava flows that occurred between 3 and 4 billion years ago. Galileo saw that the moon s surface is marked by large round pits called craters. Some craters are hundreds of kilometers across. For a long time, many scientists mistakenly thought these craters had been made by volcanoes. Scientists now know that these craters were caused by the impacts of meteoroids, chunks of rock or dust from space. Galileo correctly inferred that some of the light-colored features he saw on the moon s surface were highlands, or mountains. The peaks of the lunar highlands and the rims of the craters cast dark shadows, which Galileo could see. The rugged lunar highlands cover much of the moon s surface. The moon is dry and airless. Compared to Earth, the moon is small and has large variations in its surface temperature. To stay at a comfortable temperature, protect against sunburn, and carry an air supply, you would have to wear a bulky spacesuit if you visited the moon. The moon is 3,476 kilometers in diameter, a little less that the distance across the United States. This is about one-fourth Earth s diameter. However, the moon has only one-eightieth as much mass as Earth. The moon has no liquid water. However, there is evidence that there may be large patches of ice near the moon s poles. Temperatures in these regions are so low that ice there would remain frozen. People have long wondered how the moon was formed. Scientists have suggested many possible theories. The theory of the moon s origin that seems to best fit the evidence is called the collision-ring theory. About 4.5 billion years ago, when Earth was very young, the solar system was full of rocky debris. Some of this debris was the size of small planets. Scientists theorize that a planet-sized object collided with Earth to form the moon. Gravity caused this material to combine to form the moon.

5 Name Date Class Traveling Into Space Key Concepts How does a rocket work? What is the main advantage of a multistage rocket? What was the space race, and what were the major events in the exploration of the moon? What are the roles of space shuttles, space stations, and space probes? A rocket moves forward when gases shooting out of the back of the rocket push it in the opposite direction. The reaction force that propels a rocket forward is called thrust. The greater the thrust, the greater a rocket s velocity. Velocity is speed in a given direction. Orbital velocity is the velocity a rocket must achieve to establish an orbit around Earth. Escape velocity is the velocity a rocket must reach to fly beyond a planet s gravitational pull. A rocket can carry only so much fuel. The main advantage of a multistage rocket is that the total weight of the rocket is greatly reduced as the rocket rises. In a multistage rocket, smaller rockets, or stages, are placed one on top of the other and then fired in succession. The space race began in 1957 when the Soviet Union launched the satellite Sputnik into orbit. The United States responded by speeding up its own space program. A satellite is an object that revolves around another object in space. A spacecraft orbiting Earth is an artificial satellite. The American effort to land astronauts on the moon was named the Apollo program. In 1969, the Apollo 11 mission succeeded in landing astronauts on the moon. Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon. After the moon landings, space exploration continued through the use of space shuttles, space stations, and space probes. A space shuttle is a spacecraft that can carry a crew into space, return to Earth, and then be reused. NASA has used space shuttles to perform many important tasks. These include taking satellites into orbit, repairing damaged satellites, and carrying astronauts and equipment to and from space stations. A space station is a large artificial satellite on which people can live and work for long periods. A space station provides a place where long-term observations and experiments can be carried out in space. A space probe is a spacecraft that carries scientific instruments to collect data, but that has no human crew. Space probes can gather data about distant parts of the solar system where humans cannot easily travel. Some probes have small robots called rovers that can move around on the surface of a planet.

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