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Alien worlds may be all the rage, with their mystique and promise, but the orb we call home, planet Earth, has all the makings for a jaw-dropping blockbuster movie: from the drama of explosive volcanoes, past meteor crashes and catastrophic collisions between rocky plates to the seeming fantasy of the ocean's deep abysses swirling with odd life and tales of the coldest, hottest, deepest, highest and all-out extreme spots.
Did you know Earth is not actually a sphere? That we are rocketing around the sun at 67,000 mph? That the majority of Earth's fresh water is locked up in Antarctica?
We pawed through our archives to gather together just 50 of the most amazing and interesting facts about Earth. Enjoy the journey.
Editor's Note: this list was originally published in 2012. It was updated in March of 2016.
We're the third rock from the sunSlide 2 of 101
We're the third rock from the sun
Our home, Earth, is the third planet from the sun and the only world known to support an atmosphere with free oxygen, oceans of liquid water on the surface and — the big one — life. Earth is one of the four terrestrial planet: Like Mercury, Venus and Mars, it is rocky at the surface.
Keep reading to find out why Earth is not a sphere, even though it is often said to be.Slide 3 of 101
Earth is a squashed sphereSlide 4 of 101
Earth is a squashed sphere
Earth is not a perfect sphere. As Earth spins, gravity points toward the center of our planet (assuming for explanation's sake that Earth is a perfect sphere), and a centrifugal force pushes outward. But since this gravity-opposing force acts perpendicular to the axis of Earth, and Earth's axis is tilted, centrifugal force at the equator is not exactly opposed to gravity. This imbalance adds up at the equator, where gravity pushes extra masses of water and earth into a bulge, or "spare tire" around our planet. [6 Weird Facts About Gravity]
Continue on to find out how big Earth's waistline is.Slide 5 of 101
The planet has a waistlineSlide 6 of 101
The planet has a waistline
Mother Earth has a generous waistline: At the equator, the circumference of the globe is 24,901 miles (40,075 kilometers). Bonus fact: At the equator, you would weigh less than if standing at one of the poles.
Keep going . . . you're going to be surprised to learn just how fast you are moving right now.Slide 7 of 101
Earth is on the moveSlide 8 of 101