Hurtling through Space. To infinity and beyond.
Today, we know that our Earth is constantly moving. While moving around the Sun in its orbit, Earth also spins on its own axis. This constant spin of our Earth had our ancestors believe that the Earth was the center of the universe. They noticed shimmering lights in the night sky, and a giant ball of fire during the day. They all appeared to be moving above the Earth. This observation was interpreted to mean that Earth was stationary and celestial bodies all moved above us.
For any Earth-dweller, it’s comfortable to believe that we’re standing still. After all, we do not feel anything. Considering how minuscule we are compared to the size of the earth and in respect to the entire cosmos, we should feel something, right? Then why don’t we?
How fast are we actually moving in Space? Why don’t we feel it?
To find out the answer to your question of how fast we are spinning, we need to understand two things:
a. How long it takes to make a full rotation?
b. Earth’s circumference.
Time taken by Earth to rotate around the Sun so it appears in the same position in the sky of the day, is 24 hours, and has been termed as a ‘Solar Day’. On the other hand, the time taken for one complete rotation on its own axis, is approximately 23 hours 56 minutes 4.091 seconds. We call it a ‘Sidereal Day’.
Next, the circumference (broadest part at the Earth’s Equator) is roughly 24,898 miles (40,070 kilometers). We divide the circumference by the length of the day (24 hours). This equals a speed at the equator of about 1,670 km/h.
As Earth spins at a constant speed, so does everything else on it. It is like being on a vehicle. Even though you are moving along with the vehicle, you aren’t aware of its speed because it is constant. You only notice the speed if you slow down or accelerate.
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A change in Earth’s speed has been also been a constant phenomenon, but it is far too slow to be noticed. Over billions of years, our Earth is slowing down. Millions of years ago, one Earth day was equal to 22 hours, which has increased by 2 hours over time. In reality, our days are increasing by around 2 milliseconds every century.
This slowing down process is caused by natural forces like, wind and water current patterns creating friction on Earth’s surface. However, global warming is also a major contributor to the changing speed of Earth’s rotation. Rising sea levels, causing a change in Earth’s mass could result in Earth spinning slower and altering the length of each day. This could have dramatic (even catastrophic) effects on GPS systems, information technology, space exploration and the
circumference (broadest part at the Earth’s Equator) is roughly 24,898 miles (40,070 kilometers). We divide the circumference by the length of the day (24 hours). This equals a speed at the equator of about 1,670 km/h. entire process of keeping time.
How it helps us? This is the fun bit!!
Space agencies have been taking advantage of Earth’s spin. For example, when launching space shuttles with humans or cargo, the preferred location to do so is close to the equator. With this trick and launching in the exact direction of the Earth’s spin, a speed boost is provided for the shuttles, to help them soar out of the atmosphere.
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