When you think of what is between the surface of the earth and outer space, what comes to mind?

Most people think it’s just air…where planes fly and where weather happens.

Well did you know that the area where weather happens is only one of five distinct layers of the atmosphere?

Troposphere: This is where we live. It is also where the weather happens. This layer extends up from the surface around 5-10 miles, depending on where you stand.

Stratosphere: This is where the ozone layer is. The ozone helps block us from some of the harmful UV rays coming from the sun. This is also where airplanes like to fly because there isn’t weather-causing turbulence.

Mesosphere: This layer has thick gasses that help slow down meteors and they often burn up before they make it any closer to earth. They leave streaks behind as they burn, giving us a show with what we call meteor showers or shooting stars.

Thermosphere: This layer has a layer within it called the ionosphere. The ionosphere is a layer of electronically charged particles that reflect back radio signals, allowing you to sing along with the song in your car. The thermosphere is also the layer where the Aurora or “Northern Lights” occur and where the space shuttle orbits.

Exosphere: This is the layer where satellites orbit and molecules can escape into “outer space.”

So next time you look up, remember that there is a lot more going on up there than just weather!

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