LAYERS OF THE ATMOSPHERE: DISCOVERING THE HIDDEN REALMS ABOVE US
The Earth's atmosphere is composed of multiple layers, each with its own unique characteristics and functions. These layers play a crucial role in supporting and sustaining life on Earth in various ways. The atmosphere is a band of different layers of gasses that protects the Earth from heat and radiation from the sun. Without the atmosphere, we would not have life on Earth. Earth is the only planet that has the unique combination of gasses that efficiently protects the planet from the UV radiation and harmful rays, compared to other planets, as all planets have atmospheres, even some of our solar system’s moons have atmospheres. The gasses in our planet’s atmosphere consist of nitrogen, oxygen, and a mix of other gasses. There are 5 layers to the atmosphere and each have a unique way of making life occur on our extraordinary planet.
The troposphere is the first and lowest region of the atmosphere, and is the region we live in. The troposphere extends around 10 miles high. The troposphere is where the Earth’s weather is found! It regulates temperature and provides oxygen for us to breathe.
The stratosphere extends 10 - 31 miles high…the stratosphere is where airplanes typically fly so that they can avoid the weather below in the troposphere. This layer of the atmosphere mainly consists of oxygen and nitrogen. The stratosphere also consists of a layer that protects us from the UV radiation by absorbing most of the UV rays, called the ozone layer, making the stratosphere VERY important for the atmosphere.
The mesosphere extends 31 to 53 miles above the stratosphere. With temperatures as cold as -130 degrees Fahrenheit, the mesosphere is easily the coldest layer of the atmosphere. The mesosphere is so cold that there are clouds made of ice crystals! (Talk about popsicles!) The mesosphere also carries a heavy responsibility simply because it protects the Earth from meteors by burning them before they can hit the ground- making the mesosphere highly important!
The thermosphere extends 53 - 372 miles high and is the hottest layer of the atmosphere (Over 3000 degrees Fahrenheit!) That’s a higher temperature than fire! Even the name “thermosphere” is hot, as the word thermo means “heat.” Though this layer is as hot as it is, had you somehow had the ability to explore the thermosphere, you would actually feel very cold, because in order to absorb the heat, there needs to be a certain quantity/amount of gas molecules, and there are not enough gas molecules in the thermosphere to transfer the heat towards you. It also is important for radio communication as it reflects radio waves back to the Earth's surface.
The exosphere is the top layer of the Earth’s atmosphere and extends 372 miles high and beyond! The exosphere consists of hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. The outermost layer where lighter gasses transition into space. This layer acts as a buffer between the Earth and outer space, preventing the escape of gasses critical for life. The exosphere is where most satellites orbit!
The atmosphere is crucial for not only the Earth, but for our survival. Had we not had the atmosphere, we would not have life on Earth. Show some appreciation to the Earth and our solar system today! It goes above and beyond what we can see with our eyes!
So, whether you're bouncing on a trampoline or taking a leap of faith into the boundless sky, remember to enjoy the incredible ups and downs of this cosmic amusement park we call Earth!