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E-Adventure to the Planet Earth

The Giant Magnet Floating in Space

Like a giant magnet floating in space, the Earth has a magnetic field around it. This magnetic field attracts or pulls things toward it. The earth's magnetic field catches bits of tiny particles floating in space. These particles have floated out from the sun about 93 million miles away.

These sun particles skip along the surface of the earth's outer layer of air, called the "atmosphere." They dance and sparkle in the night sky. They are pulled in near the North and South Poles because that's where the earth's magnetic field is the strongest.

The official name of the lights is the Aurora Borealis (ah-roar-ah bor-ee-ah-lis) or Northern Lights. People who live in southern Australia often see the Aurora Australis, which means - you got it! - Southern Lights!

Do you know about the Earth's three electrical systems?

 

Three Electrical Systems

There are three electrical systems operating on our planet. These systems involve electricity that occurs naturally. The first system involves the earth's surface, the second the air above it, and the third involves the electricity that flows between the two. Remember that batteries have positive and negative terminals? Keep that in mind when thinking about the earth's electrical systems.

Down below the Earth's surface, there are many layers of different kinds of rocks. Some of the rocks are hard, but some are so HOT that they are melted! This melted rock, which lies near the center of the earth, is full of iron and nickel, and can move around. As it moves, it creates a kind of electricity, or current. The current on the earth's surface has a negative charge, also shown as the minus sign (-).

In the Earth's air layer or atmosphere, electricity occurs because the sun changes the air molecules. The air above Earth is like the glass wall of a greenhouse; it lets sunlight through, but it keeps out some of the things that would harm us--this is called "the greenhouse effect."

The sunlight creates changes in the Earth's air that make the air have an electric charge, this time a positive charge, shown as (+).

The third system of the Earth involves how the surface electricity, which has a negative charge, exchanges with the atmosphere's electricity, which has a positive charge. Remember that in magnets, opposites attract? In the Earth's electrical systems, the positive charge in the air and negative charge on the surface are attracting and interacting all the time. How? Through thunderstorms!

Scientists believe that thunderstorms, which are occurring all over the earth at all times of the day and night, are the Earth's way of evening up and transferring electrical charges.

 

 

Copyright 2011