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Spaceship Earth 'Life support'

Updated on June 29, 2019
lawrence01 profile image

The universe is vast and wonderful. It can make us feel so small and insignificant, but it can also make us feel so special that we're here.

How the first to venture out saw us.

An amazing place
An amazing place | Source

"Life support functioning normally Captain"

That's a line that is in almost every space movie at some point, Usually when there's been a problem that the crew of the ship has just fixed and life is about to return to 'normal' as it were.

It's something that we probably take for granted, that we have air to breathe, water to drink and food to eat, but things weren't always this way on Earth, in fact, when the earth first came into being, it wasn't a very nice place to be, life could not exist on the early earth, yet it came into being, how can that be?

In the Beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth

— Genesis chapter 1 verse 1

A BOLD statement

When you think about how much people want to tell you that science and faith disagree, you'd probably agree that I'm making a BOLD statement, but then read the next line of the Genesis account.

But the Earth was formless and void, and a great darkness hovered over the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. (Genesis chapter 1 verse 2)

Did you know that the present theories of how the earth was formed said that about five billion years after the initial explosion that was the 'big bang' there would have been another one that began the forming of our Galaxy, and five billion years into that the gases of Hydrogen and Helium in our area of the Galaxy reached critical mass and exploded throwing out the heavier elements into orbit that would later form into the planets of our solar system, our sun was born in that inferno, and so was our planet, in fact the very atoms and molecules that make up our bodies were constructed in that moment!

So the two aren't so very different!

Literally billions of rocks were created in that explosion. Not just the eight planets we know of, but all the asteroids, comets, meteors, gases and everything we know was created in the nuclear reaction that took place right there and then.

Scientists estimate that our solar system has not just eight planets and a number of 'dwarf planets' (we'll get to what they are in another hub) moons, comets and the like, but around four hundred billion rocks that we know of make up our solar system! and that's just our estimates, we haven't actually seen the edge of our solar system, it's too far out.

Yet there's only one place where life is known to exist, how is that?

Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities that have biological processes, such as signaling and self-sustaining processes, from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased (they have died), or because they never had such functions and are classified as inanimate. Various forms of life exist, such as plants, animals, fungi, protists, archaea, and bacteria. The criteria can at times be ambiguous and may or may not define viruses, viroids, or potential synthetic

— Wikipedia

Life support?

One form of life
One form of life | Source
Some of the diversity
Some of the diversity | Source

Life support systems.

Earth is just far enough away from our sun that water doesn't boil away on our surface.

On Venus, it never gets that cool. Venus is our nearest neighbour and is only thirty million miles closer to our sun, but the temperatures there is around two hundred degrees centigrade (about four hundred and twenty Fahrenheit).

Part of the reason is that Venus' atmosphere is 95% Carbon dioxide, a gas that traps heat in, and doesn't allow heat to escape, allowing the excess heat to escape is a vital 'safety valve' of the system

Earth has less than 500 molecules per million of carbon dioxide, but that is rising with the use of fossil fuels (even the gas in your tank is making it rise) but even the carbon dioxide that's there is important for keeping the planet warm enough.

Our atmosphere is 78% nitrogen, 21% Oxygen and the rest made up of gases like Argon (0.98%) and the rest of various other gases, all of which are essential for life, but most would kill us if we had only them to deal with.

Mars Is the opposite of Venus, it's fifty million miles further out from the sun than we are, but the temperatures are mostly below zero meaning that the little water that is there is almost permanently frozen, Mars did have water at one stage, but being only 80% the size of Earth it's gravity wasn't strong enough to hold the water, it also has an atmosphere that's only 1% that of earth (for the same reason weak gravity)

Back to Earth and Oxygen

Oxygen in the wrong form or wrong dose would kill us within minutes, yet we need it to survive! The only gas in our atmosphere that wouldn't kill us for inhaling would be nitrogen, but our bodies are geared, in fact almost every life form is geared to use Oxygen as it's fuel for life, how did we get this mix in the first place!

And God said "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide water from water"

— Genesis 1 verse 6

Stretching things?

Okay, for some of you I probably am stretching things a bit, but hear me out.

What are comets mostly made up of?

What are Saturn's rings mostly made up of?

Neptune and Uranus are both known as ...Giants what word precedes it?

What covers Pluto's surface?

The answer to all of those is one thing ICE

ICE but not just your common garden bit that's in the freezer, this stuff is so cold it's like a solid rock!

A mountain of Ice estimated to be as tall as Mount Blanc on the surface of Pluto, comets with ice so cold that as they streak towards our sun and heat up they leave a tail or water vapour, so much so that it's actually where scientists now think the water on the surface of our planet originally came from!

According to their timetable, the first water arrived on earth like this around three billion years ago, and with it the first Oxygen.

And the first building blocks of the life support system had arrived.

Mars Had water, but being smaller than earth, it seems not to have been able to hold onto that water, though recently some has been found, and it's thought that during the Martian summer the Ice in the 'permafrost' on the surface turns into a kind of sludge that we could call water.

Venus is far too hot for water to stay.

Mercury Believe it or not there are places on the surface of Mercury (the nearest planet to our sun) that are thought might have ice all year round at the poles where there are craters that stay in the shade all the time, though outside the shade it's a steamy one hundred and sixty degrees centigrade (Three hundred Fahrenheit)

The only other place that might have liquid water is Europa One of the moons of Jupiter that has an ice-covered surface but might have liquid water underneath at it's thought that it's close enough to Jupiter for the massive planet to cause volcanic eruptions.

Yet Earth has water, and enough to allow life to develop!

And we don't really know how it all began!

Which came first, the chicken of the egg?

That's the question we have now, sorry but I can't help wondering with this as the hub seems to be taking its own direction, but I want to go with it and see where we end up!

See to create the Oxygen we need plankton, simple-celled creatures (I'm not sure if they're single-celled) that live in the sea, and all they need is sunlight and water to produce the element in the gaseous form we all need to survive.

It's thought that the very first of these might have been sulphur based but as none exist today we'll never really know!

But earth's life support systems rely on these creatures, they even actually 'live' inside other plants and produce the carbohydrates that those plants need for them!

By the way, this was only discovered in the last few years, before that we thought that the plants themselves produced the Oxygen, but no, it's the plankton or 'cyanobacteria' as science calls them.

Earth's life support system

Put simply it's the fact that Earth has liquid water, heat to keep the water liquid, but not so much that the water boils away, and even has a means of regulating the temperature (rain and evaporation).

Along with that it also has tiny creatures that produce the very gas that sustains all other life on the planet, and they work with other plants to help them produce the carbohydrates needed for their growth and life, all of which is geared for higher life forms to develop and live.

Putting things simply, Earth is purpose-built for life

And it has shields to protect that life!

See if you know

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From me to you

Hope you enjoyed this hub and the little quiz at the end.

Anyway, this is just some of how wonderful the place the human race calls home really is, in the next one we're probably going to be going into some of the problems that we face as a species and what we can do about them, it's going to be an interesting ride here on 'Spaceship Earth'

Hope you enjoyed the ride so far'




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    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      10 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Glad you enjoyed it.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 

      10 months ago from Fresno CA

      I seriously enjoyed this. I agree that many things had to happen in the right order for life to exist, including the tilt of the axis and the spin that Earth has. I don't think any of it could be by accident. It would take a great deal of "faith" to think that accidents can be that perfectly aligned.



    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      12 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      No worries, and my apologies for coming over as if I had all the answers, I don't and was stating an opinion.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      12 months ago from Traverse City, MI

      Thanks for that response, Lawrence. I just feel more comfortable when I am certain people around me actually have their brains engaged. Of course, you do. There are so many variables and unknowns, it is nothing more than arrogance for any of us to claim the ground of absolute certainty. I am willing to humbly wait and see. Beyond all of that, your hubs are wonderful sources of information about our universe.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      12 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      No worries about that, I'm late turning up to a lot of hubs.

      As for your question if its the same as we observe in space at that temperature water vapourises and freezes at the same time, probes have observed jets of ice coming from some bodies (Ceres and Enceladus come to mind and maybe Europa)

      As for Genesis it says the Earth was 'formless and void' and water covered the face of the deep.

      There are many who think Genesis hints at a massive cataclysm that destroyed everything that was there before, we just don't know.

      Science tells us that water arrived on Earth about 3 billion years ago probably from meteorites as it would have boiled away if it came earlier (the Earth may still have been cooling) but its fascinating to see how much water is actually in our solar system!

      Mercury has ice on it.

      Earth has 70% of its surface covered in water.

      The Moon has water.

      Mars has water

      The reason I subscribe to the viewpoint of 'purpose built' is there are so many things that have to happen in a set order (here we're just talking of a couple that could well be a 'happy accident') but then you get into things like the organic chemistry where things have to happen in sequence and within seconds of each other for the compounds to form.

      Sorry if it sounded a bit 'OTT' but its the way I see it.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      12 months ago from Traverse City, MI

      I love these hubs, Lawrence. I'm sorry I'm so far behind, but I enjoy every one. Here is a challenge to you. Genesis says that Earth at the beginning was a ball of liquid water in empty space. The average temperature of space now (with the sun present) is -270°C (-458°F). At that temperature, what are the two things that would happen to liquid water in immediate succession?

      I discovered this when I was reading how the first astronaughts disposed of urine. They ejected it into space and observed these two phenomena.

      Back to your hub. You did a great job on the origin and production of oxygen.

      Question: You said, "Putting things simply, Earth is purpose-built for life." Why do you subscribe to this viewpoint rather than to the following: As the early universe expanded, Earth eventually fell into a zone that was conducive to the origination and sustaining of life. Any planet could have ended up in this zone and would have had the chance to produce life. Earth happened to be the one that won the lottery.

      Keep up the good writing, Lawrence. I am enjoying it.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      18 months ago from Queensland Australia

      That has always been my view as well...a day actually relates to an era e.g. Jurassic, Neolithic, Paleolithic etc.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      18 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      That's because there's still the glitch I inadvertently created in the quiz (sorry). Glad you enjoyed it though.

      I totally agree with what you say, to me there is no real argument between the two, the only real point of disagreement is the timescale, but that's based on what I think is the mistranslation of the Hebrew word 'yom' which can mean 'day' but can also mean 'era' like the way we use the word 'day' in English (ever hear grandparents say "in my day"?) but that't my view.



    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      18 months ago from Queensland Australia

      I enjoyed every thing about this Lawrence. Creationism and Science can and do coexist quite well if people take the time to see the commonalities. Creation magazine is a very good resource and offers a lot of scientifically based evidence that doesn’t contradict intelligent creation. I look forward to the rest of the series and seeing where you take us. Oh, I too had to do the quiz more than once..the first time it said I had every answer correct but only gave me 66% lol.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      18 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Okay, I've still got to fix that up. Glad it made you think though, and who knows, in the not too distant future Titan may be home to a Human colony!

      I agree, it is how God does things.

    • Paul K Francis profile image

      Paul K Francis 

      18 months ago from east coast,USA

      It's nice how you blend science and God. That stuff always interests me. It makes the ride that more enjoyable.

    • justthemessenger profile image

      James C Moore 

      18 months ago from The Great Midwest

      I should've known that I dont live on earth. Anyway, I like your breakdown of the other planets atmospheric chemistry and the explanation of how earth is specifically suited to have life. Its as another hubber commented, that science is how God does things.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      18 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      To me, its about the similarity between the two, the creation story and what science tells us about how things all began.

      How could an obscure Hebrew brought up in an Ancient Palace with almost no science training know the sequence of events in how our world came into being?

      Then we look at the detail of what is needed just to produce the Oxygen everyliving thing needs!

      To me, there's only one thing to say.

      "How Great thou art"

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      18 months ago from The Caribbean

      You make us aware of things we should consider and appreciate about our "home." I usually just skip the "big bang" thing but I read on here. Your presentation is interesting.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      18 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      I'm with you on that one. I never really thought of myself as any kind of nerd, but I love science and every time I look at things related to it I'm stunned at the detail God went to in creation.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      18 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      Glad you enjoyed the hub. Its point was (actually all three hubs) that it all HAS to be designed.

      I'm glad its given you a few things to think about.

      With regards to the age of the universe I've done articles before on why it might not be as old as science claims, but I'm not really wanting to get into that debate here.

    • Besarien profile image


      18 months ago from South Florida

      Hi Lawrence! I enjoyed this hub both as a science nerd and as a Christian. It saddens me that so many people now seem to think it is impossible to be both. But, I really can't imagine not being both. To me, science is the way God gets things done. The more I learn about science, the more I feel I know and appreciate God and all his works.

      So I live on Saturn? Nope! Sometimes I drive around in one. I think there is a problem with your see-if-you-know quiz. You made me retake the test three times and laugh a lot though. If that is what you intended, well played, sir!

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      18 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      A very fine line indeed. So many things need to happen at the same time just to produce the Oxygen we breathe.

      Glad you found it fascinating.

      Writing an article like this helps me just to be thankful for what we do have.

    • lawrence01 profile imageAUTHOR

      Lawrence Hebb 

      18 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      When the two sides debate, very often the lines are so clearly drawn, and both sides are so dogmatic that 'their side'is right they fail to see the similarities.

      This article is more about how theEarth sustains life on her,and how every piece is vital, even down to the smallest plankton,take one out and the whole thing falls over.

      It wouldbe an awesome project for youand your boy to study together.


    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      18 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Although I favor Creationism and a young earth model, you really put together some interesting facts here, Lawrence. This is a subject I could get wrapped up in easily. Thank you, my friend!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      18 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Such a fine line between balance and imbalance...between life and death....all quite fascinating, and you only added to that fascination, my friend.Well done!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      18 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very cool journey. The comparisons between bible & science always intrigues me. I like how you handle it here. This is one for the boy and I to do together, thanks.


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