It is interesting to realize that the Earth is constantly exchanging materials with the surrounding solar system. That is, dust accelerating through space regularly bombards our planet in the form of shooting stars, and gases from Earth’s atmosphere regularly seep into space. But then… is the planet expanding or shrinking? Understanding whether it ‘grows’ or ‘shrinks’ can help to know whether this effect threatens life on Earth.
In a constant exchange between the Earth and the environment that welcomes it, the question is whether our planet is expanding or shrinking. Due to Earth’s gaseous gifts to space, the planet — or, to be specific, the atmosphere — is shrinking, according to Guillaume Gronoff, a research scientist who studies atmospheric leakage at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia. However, although we are shrinking, the value is not that high.
+ Meteor passes through the atmosphere and illuminates the sky of Pará
As mentioned in the researcher’s work, planets are formed by accretion (accumulation of matter on the surface), that is, when the dust of space collides and accumulates more and more in a greater mass. After the formation of the Earth about 4.5 billion years ago, this “fattening” continued to take place in the form of material brought by meteors and meteorites.
Well, when a planet forms, at this moment another process begins: atmospheric escape. Therefore, this loss of gases happens through a process similar to evaporation, but on a different scale. According to Gronnoff, in the atmosphere, oxygen, hydrogen and helium atoms absorb enough energy from the sun to escape into the atmosphere.
So how do these processes affect the Earth’s global mass? Scientists can only estimate.
“Of course, it’s still research, because it’s difficult to measure Earth’s mass in real time. We don’t have the weight of the Earth accurately enough to see if the Earth is losing or gaining,” said the scientist.
However, looking at the rate of meteors, scientists estimate that about 16,500 tons — about an Eiffel Tower and a half — impact the planet every year, adding to its mass, Gronoff said.
The researchers estimated the atmospheric leakage rate, “is something like 82,700 tons or 7.5 Eiffel Towers. This means that the Earth is losing about 66,100 tons per year. While that seems like a lot, in the context of the entire planet, it is very, very small.”
But could the Earth lose its atmosphere?
There is constantly a loss of atmosphere. However, using estimates of atmospheric leakage established over the last hundred years, Gronoff calculated that, at a rate of 60,000 tons of atmosphere lost per year, it would take Earth 5 billion years to lose its atmosphere if the planet had no way to to spare.
Therefore, even if there were no replacement of the gases that surround our planet, it would take many millions of years for an element crucial to life to disappear.
However, this 5 billion figure is an extreme case, because the ocean and other processes, such as volcanic eruptions, help replenish Earth’s atmosphere. Therefore, it will take more than 3,000 times that time – about 15.4 trillion years – before Earth loses its atmosphere.
Despite this, before such a phenomenon happens, unfortunately, the Earth will become uninhabitable anyway due to the evolution of the Sun, which is expected to become a red giant within about 5 billion years.
+ Horoscope: check today’s forecast for your sign
+ Video: Driver leaves Tesla car on autopilot and sleeps on SP highway
+ Food voucher: understand what changes with new rules for benefit
+ See which were the most stolen cars in SP in 2021
+ Expedition identifies giant squid responsible for ship sinking in 2011
+ Everything you need to know before buying a crockpot
+ Discovered in Armenia the easternmost aqueduct of the Roman Empire
+ US Agency warns: never wash raw chicken meat
+ Passenger hits and knocks out two stewardess teeth
+ Aloe vera gel in the drink: see the benefits
+ Trick to squeeze lemons becomes a craze on social media
+ Lake Superior: the best freshwater wave in the world?
#Earth #shrinking #threat #life #planet