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nathan owen

on 29 April 2014

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photo credit Nasa / Goddard Space Flight Center / Reto Stöckli
What makes up the earth?
Layers of the Earth
Layers of the Atmosphere
What makes up the atmosphere?

Earth's Fifth Layer of Air - Exosphere
Greek for "exose," meaning outer or exterior.
This is the highest region of the Earth's atmosphere, and extends more than 6,000 miles into space. At this level, the last level before outer space, the only gases that can float this high have to be the lightest gases (mostly hydrogen, and small amounts of helium, carbon dioxide, and atomic oxygen). The density of these molecules are so low that there is rarely any chance that they will run into each other. With no collisions holding these molecules back, they are able to escape Earth's gravitational pull and gracefully drift off into outer space. The exoshpere is also where you find most of the worlds satellites to be orbiting.

Earth's Fourth Layer of Air - Thermosphere
Greek for "thermos," which means hot.
Right above the mesosphere, the thermosphere is about 285,000 feet to over 400,000 feet. This layer of Earth's air gets increasingly hotter as it goes farther away from the Earth's surface. Even though it is so very hot, it is ultimatley empty of any matter. Because of the lack of matter here, a normal thermometer would read the temperature to be way far below zero . This layer also contains the ionosphere, which is the part of the atmosphere that gets receives the sun's solar radiation.

Earth's Third Layer of Air - Mesosphere
Greek for "mesos," meaning middle.
Extending from around 160,000 feet to 285,000 feet, the mesosphere is the coldest of the five layers of Earth's atmosphere—more cold than the coldest temperature ever recorded in Antarctica (-129°F!). This freezing cold layer is the biggest protector of the Earth when it comes to meteorites: most meteors burn up when they enter this part of Earth's atmosphere. Not very much is known about the mesosphere because it begins just a little higher than the maximum altitude allowed for aircraft, but lower than the minimum altitude for rocket ships and other space craft. Because of the limiting factors to this layer, the mesosphere has not been explored very much at all, causing some scientist to call this layer the "ignorosphere."

Earth's Second Layer of Air: Stratosphere
Greek for "stratus," meaning to stretch or extend.
The second layer to Earth's atmosphere is the stratosphere, which stretches out to about 160,000 feet above the Earth and contains the ozone layer, which is just about 50,000-115,000 feet above the Earth's surface. The bottom part of the stratosphere has an almost constant temperature, however this layer (unlike the troposphere) gets hotter and hotter the higher it goes. You will see commercial airliners flying in the bottom part of this layer of Earth's air to avoid all of the turbulence and bad weather found in the highest parts of the troposphere.

Earth's First Layer of Air: Troposphere
Greek for "tropos," meaning turning or change.
Closest to the Earth, starting as close as just above the surface of the Earth and extending as high as 60,000 feet up, you will find the Troposphere. This is where we live everyday of our lives. Because all of the other layers are pressing down on the troposphere due to gravity, this is also the layer of Earth's atmosphere that contains the greatest amount of pressure. The majority of our weather systems are found within the troposphere, which gets colder the higher up it goes. Eighty percent (80%) of the Earth's atmosphere is found in this layer, which is why it sustains life so well, and because it also has the greatest concentration of oxygen of the five layers.
The Earth's Atmosphere

The word "atmosphere" (from the Greek "atmos," or breath, and "sphaira," ball) refers to the gas that surrounds any planet or star. Earth's atmosphere, which is held in place by Earth's gravity, is made up of nitrogen, oxygen, argon, carbon dioxide, small amounts of other gases, and a little bit of water vapor—in other words, what we call "air." Our atmosphere gives us with a barrier from the sun's ultraviolet radiation and a cushion against the changing extremes of temperature day to day.
The Earth's Atmosphere
Like the three layers—crust, mantle, and core—found inside the Earth, the outer area around the Earth also has layers. These are measurable areas that hang around above the Earth's surface and into the air, each having their own temperatures and effects.
Outer and Inner Core
There are two very distinct parts of the core: the outer and the inner core. The outer core is 2300 km thick and the inner core is 1200 km thick. The outer core is composed mainly of a nickel-iron alloy, while the inner core is almost entirely composed of iron. The inner core is thought to rotate at a different speed than the rest of the Earth and this is thought to contribute to the presence of the Earth’s magnetic field.
There are multiple layers of the Earth. The Earth layers are: the crust, the mantle, the outer core, and the inner core. Some of the layers are considered to parts of the lithosphere and others are part of the asthenosphere. Each layer has its own properties, make-up, and characteristics. This article would be many pages long if I included everything here, so what I will do is give you an overview of each and a link at the end of each paragraph to more indepth information on that particular layer.
Just under the crust is the mantle. It is about 2900 km thick, and is separated into the upper and lower mantle. This is where most of the internal heat of the Earth is located. Large convective cells in the mantle circulate heat and may drive plate tectonic processes. The movement of the earth’s tectonic plates creates earthquakes to occur.
This is not what we walk on. The layers of dirt and silt that cover the crust are normally considered to be separate from it. The crust comprises the continents and ocean basins. It has a variable thickness, anywhere from 35-70 km thick in the continents and 5-10 km thick in the ocean basins.
Felix Baumgartner - The human who jumped from the edge of space through the layers of the atmosphere to the surface of the earth.
Full transcript