Why do people study Earth science?
A lot of people are attracted to Earth science because they love to be outdoors. These people wonder how the magnificent rock formations that they see, like here in Yosemite in California, were formed. They want to study the processes that create and modify landforms. Some people want to go deeper, to learn about what drives the surface processes and other features of the planet; for example, why does Earth have a magnetic field? These people are interested in learning about the layers of material that lie beneath the surface, the mantle and the core. Since more than 70% of Earth is covered with oceans, it's not surprising that many people wonder what lies within and at the bottom of the seas. Although scientists say that we know more about the far side of the Moon than we do about the deep oceans, we know an awful lot considering how hostile the ocean environment is for humans. Some people look up and wonder what lies beyond our skies. These people are interested in applying what we know about Earth to our more distant surroundings. They want to understand our near neighbors, the planets and satellites of our Solar System, and objects that lie far beyond.
In Principles of Science you learned what science is and how science is different from other ways of viewing the world. In this chapter, you will learn about what Earth Science encompasses and how it is done. Earth scientists learn about the world by using a lot of amazing tools and scientific principles. To understand things that are small or far away, a microscope or a telescope is necessary. To learn about things on the ground, a good map is useful. Rocks and other earth materials are analyzed chemically. As technology has advanced we've learned more about the oceans and space. One of the most important principles - and the most important for understanding Earth history - is "the present is the key to the past." By understanding the present, we can try to piece together Earth's magnificent 4.6 billion year history.