Planet Earth, as seen from space The Earth is a huge, spinning ball of rock with a core of iron. It is one of eight planets that travel round the Sun. It is the only world we know where life exists. Its surface is made up of oceans, which cover more than two thirds of it, and land masses, called continents. A layer of air called the atmosphere, surrounds the Earth.
The Earth orbits the Sun in just over 365 days, which we call a year. The Earth spins on its axis (an imaginary line running from pole to pole) once every 24 hours, or a day. This makes the Sun appear to rise at dawn, pass across the sky and set at dusk, giving us day and night. The Earth is itself orbited by the Moon, which takes a little more than 27 days to go round it.
The shape of the Earth
Air is the name we give to the gases in the atmosphere. It contains around 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen, with small amounts of other gases, including carbon dioxide and water vapour.
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