By Sabine Stanley, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins university

The thermosphere is just one of the class in the atmosphere. Too thin because that planes to fly and also too cold for humans to survive. However, the is house to the beautiful northern lights–the aurora. However, they room not the only things that happen in the thermosphere. The International an are Station also orbits the earth in this layer.

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Aurora is just one of the phenomenon happening in the thermosphere layer. (Image: MikeDrago.cz/Shutterstock)

The thermosphere is just one of the higher layers of the atmosphere, through loosely flying gas atoms. The atoms are so far away that collisions rarely happen, and they cannot behave prefer a gas. However, the electrons flying v this layer indigenous the sun are sufficient to collide with the atoms and also create the aurora. To recognize the thermosphere and what wake up there, very first we should understand the atmosphere.

The an initial two great of the setting aretroposphere and stratosphere. The third layer is the mesosphere, extending from around 50 to 80 kilometers in altitude.

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The Mesosphere

The mesosphere has actually no ozone atom or other heating source; thus, its temperature decreases considerably with height. The layer ends at the mesopause, with a temperature that -120°F, making the the coldest great of the atmosphere. The mesosphere is the the very least studied layer, due to its conditions: the pressure is too low because that anything come fly and gather data, yet it is also high because that satellites to orbit.

Some electrical phenomena occur in the mesosphere: red sprites and also blue jets, both due to lightning in the mesosphere. Besides, many meteors burn up here, make the mesosphere house to shoot stars. The next layer is the thermosphere.

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The Ionosphere in the Thermosphere

The high layer over the mesosphere is called the thermosphere.It starts 80 kilometers over the surface,varying native 500 kilometers approximately 1000kilometers in altitude. Choose in the stratosphere, temperatures in thethermosphere increase with altitude. Ultraviolet and also X-rays are took in bymolecules, ionizing them, and also creating the heat. Whereby electricallycharged ions dominate is called the ionosphere, and thermosphere consist of thelargest part of it.

Even though temperatures deserve to reachseveral thousands of degrees, the low thickness of air can make world freeze inthe thermosphere. The conditions are not an ideal for human beings to survive but arevery perfect for the aurora to it is in born.

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What create Aurora?

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Different color of aurora count on the atoms or molecules affiliated in the photon-emission process. (Image: Simon’s enthusiasm 4 Travel/Shutterstock)

The aurora is developed when the high-energy particles roughly Earth’s magnetic ar lines collide v atmospheric atoms. The incoming energy excites the electrons in the corpuscle into greater energy levels, yet cannot store them there. When the electrons go ago to their common state, they release photons, i.e., light. The color depends ~ above the form of atom or molecule fight by energy: Oxygen creates red and also green aurora, if nitrogen create blue.

Not all aurorais visible because some happen in the ultraviolet and also infrared varieties of the electromagnetic spectrum. However, there is one more visible inhabitant the the thermosphere: The International space Station.

The International space Station

The most beautiful photos of auroracome native the International an are Station, orbiting in the thermosphere in 330 to420 kilometers of altitude. The station is the size of a football ar – thelargest structure placed into space – and has hosted over 230 astronauts due to the fact that theyear 2000.

It weighs almost a million pounds and also orbitsthe earth at end 17,000 miles every hour, thus, orbiting the planet every 93minutes. With its 15 orbits per day and the orbit inclination around 50° fromEarth’s equator, the terminal gets pretty great coverage the the globe. It deserve to beseen best prior to sunrise or appropriate after sunset, together a shining white period speedingthrough the sky. Normally, 2 to six astronauts live in the station.

Gravity in the International room Station

Astronauts rise in the an are station,but not because gravity is really weak there. The gravitational acceleration atthese altitudes is only around 10% weaker than gravity on earth surface.However, the station is continuous freefalling, so civilization inside deserve to float inthe air.

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The International space Station is an additional inhabitant of the thermosphere, orbiting the earth 15 times a day. (Image: Vadim Sadovski/Shutterstock)

They execute not feeling gravity, together thestation drops at the same price they do. The horizontal velocity is enough tokeep the terminal in orbit. This is the status of all objects orbiting theEarth. Living in space is a different subject, too lengthy to be covered here.

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In the end, aurora and theInternational space Station space both in the thermosphere, whose super-lowpressure creates the perfect conditions for orbiting and also magnetic phenomena.