The thermosphere is the layer in the Earth's atmosphere directly above the mesosphere and below the exosphere. Within this layer of the atmosphere, ultraviolet radiation causes photoionization / photodissociation of molecules, creating ions; the thermosphere thus constitutes the larger part of the ionosphere. Taking its name from the Greek θερμός (pronounced thermos) meaning heat, the thermosphere begins at about 80 km (50 mi) above sea level. At these high altitudes, the residual atmospheric gases sort into strata according to molecular mass (see turbosphere). Thermospheric temperatures increase with altitude due to absorption of highly energetic solar radiation. Temperatures are highly dependent on solar activity, and can rise to 2,000 °C (3,630 °F) or more. Radiation causes the atmosphere particles in this layer to become electrically charged particles, enabling radio waves to be refracted and thus be received beyond the horizon. In the exosphere, beginning at about 600 km (375 mi) above sea level, the atmosphere turns into space, although, by the judging criteria set for the definition of the Kármán line, the thermosphere itself is part of space. The border between the thermosphere and exosphere is known as the thermopause.

The highly attenuated gas in this layer can reach 2,500 °C (4,530 °F) during the day. Despite the high temperature, an observer or object will experience cold temperatures in the thermosphere, because the extremely low density of the gas (practically a hard vacuum) is insufficient for the molecules to conduct heat. A normal thermometer will read significantly below 0 °C (32 °F), at least at night, because the energy lost by thermal radiation would exceed the energy acquired from the atmospheric gas by direct contact. In the anacoustic zone above 160 kilometres (99 mi), the density is so low that molecular interactions are too infrequent to permit the transmission of sound.

The dynamics of the thermosphere are dominated by atmospheric tides, which are driven predominantly by diurnal heating. Atmospheric waves dissipate above this level because of collisions between the neutral gas and the ionospheric plasma.

The thermosphere is uninhabited with the exception of the International Space Station, which orbits the Earth within the middle of the thermosphere between 408 and 410 kilometres (254 and 255 mi) and the Tiangong space station, which orbits between 340 and 450 kilometres (210 and 280 mi). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermosphere

Created by Dale Pond. Last Modification: Friday March 11, 2022 08:49:40 MST by Dale Pond.