Question

Does the earth's mass increase? Even in insignificant quantities?

Asked by: Jorge Luis Mendez

Answer

The Earth gains mass each day as a result of incoming debris from space. You may have even seen evidence of this activity in the form of a 'falling star', or meteor, on a dark night.

While the actual amount of added material depends on which study you look at, an estimated 10 to the 8th power kilograms of in-falling matter accumulates every day. That seemingly large amount, however, IS insignificant compared to the Earth's total mass of almost 10 to the 25th power kilograms.

In other words, Earth adds an estimated one quadrillionth of one percent to its weight each day. I don't know of any counteracting mass LOSS mechanism of any consequence.

Answered by: Paul Walorski, B.A. Physics, Part-time Physics Instructor

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Science Quote

'For the sake of persons of ... different types, scientific truth should be presented in different forms, and should be regarded as equally scientific, whether it appears in the robust form and the vivid coloring of a physical illustration, or in the tenuity and paleness of a symbolic expression.'

James Clerk Maxwell
(1831-1879)