Mar 2, 2013

Did You Know ... Eart Facts 31-40

31. What is the largest canyon?
The Grand Canyon is billed as the world's largest canyon system. Its main branch is 277 miles (446 kilometers) long. But let's compare. Valles Marineris on Mars extends for about 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers). If added it to a U.S. map, it would stretch from New York City to Los Angeles. In places this vast scar on the Martian surface is 5 miles (8 kilometers) deep.
32. What is the deepest canyon in the United States?
Over the eons, the Snake River dug Hell's Canyon along the Oregon-Idaho border. It is more than 8,000 feet (2.4 kilometers) deep. In contrast the Grand Canyon is less than 6,000 feet deep -- a bit more than a mile.
33. Is Earth the largest rocky planet in the solar system?
Just barely! Earth's diameter at the equator is 7,926 miles (12,756 kilometers). Venus is 7,521 miles (12,104 kilometers) wide. Mercury and Mars, the other two inner rocky planets, are much smaller. Pluto is rocky, too, but it's comparatively tiny (and some say it is not a planet at all).
34. How many of Earth's volcanoes are known to have erupted in historic time?
About 540 volcanoes on land are known. No one knows how many undersea  volcanoes have erupted through history.
35. Is air mostly oxygen?
Earth's atmosphere is actually about 80 percent nitrogen. Most of the rest is oxygen, with tiny amounts of other stuff thrown in.

36. What is the highest waterfall in the United States?
Yosemite Falls in California is 2,425 feet (739 meters).
37. What percentage of the world's water is in the oceans?
About 97 percent. Oceans make up about two-thirds of Earth's surface, which means that when the next asteroid hits the planet, odds are good it will splash down.
38. Which two landmasses contain the vast majority of the Earth's fresh water supply?
Nearly 70 percent of the Earth's fresh-water supply is locked up in the icecaps of Antarctica and Greenland. The remaining fresh-water supply exists in the atmosphere, streams, lakes, or groundwater and accounts for a mere 1 percent of the Earth's total.
39. Which of the Earth's oceans is the largest?
The Pacific Ocean covers 64 million square miles (165 million square kilometers). It is more than two times the size of the Atlantic. It has an average depth of 2.4 miles (3.9 kilometers).
40. Why is Earth mostly crater-free compared to the pockmarked Moon?
Earth is more active, in terms of both geology and weather. Much of our planet's geologic history was long ago folded back inside. Some of that is regurgitated by volcanoes, but the results are pretty hard to study. Even more recent events evident on the surface -- craters that can by millions of years old -- get overgrown by vegetation, weathered by wind and rain, and modified by earthquakes and landslide=. The Moon, meanwhile, is geologically quiet and has almost no weather; it= craters tell a billions-year-long tale of catastrophic collisions. Interestingly, some of the oldest Earth rocks might be awaiting discovery on the moon, having been blasted there billions of years ago by the very asteroid impacts that rattle both worlds.