The aurora (Northern Lights and also Southern Lights) mostly take place in the thermosphere.Credit: photo Science & analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson an are Center

The thermosphere is a layer of Earth"s atmosphere. The thermosphere is directly above the mesosphere and also below the exosphere. That extends from around 90 kilometres (56 miles) to in between 500 and also 1,000 km (311 to 621 miles) over our planet.

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Temperatures rise sharply in the lower thermosphere (below 200 to 300 km altitude), then level off and also hold relatively steady with increasing altitude over that height. Solar activity strongly impacts temperature in the thermosphere. The thermosphere is typically about 200° C (360° F) name is in the daytime than at night, and roughly 500° C (900° F) hotter once the sunlight is an extremely active 보다 at other times. Temperature in the top thermosphere can selection from around 500° C (932° F) to 2,000° C (3,632° F) or higher.

The boundary in between the thermosphere and the exosphere above it is dubbed the thermopause. In ~ the bottom that the thermosphere is the mesopause, the boundary between the thermosphere and the mesosphere below.

Although the thermosphere is considered component of Earth"s atmosphere, the air thickness is so short in this class that most of the thermosphere is what we typically think that as external space. In fact, the most common definition says that space begins in ~ an altitude of 100 km (62 miles), slightly over the mesopause at the bottom that the thermosphere. The room shuttle and the International space Station both orbit earth within the thermosphere!

Below the thermosphere, gases do of different species of atoms and also molecules room thoroughly mixed together by turbulence in the atmosphere. Waiting in the lower atmosphere is largely composed that the familiar blend of about 80% nitrogen molecule (N2) and about 20% oxygen molecules (O2). In the thermosphere and also above, gas corpuscle collide therefore infrequently that the gases come to be somewhat separated based upon the species of chemical aspects they contain. Energetic ultraviolet and also X-ray photons native the Sun also break apart molecules in the thermosphere. In the upper thermosphere, atom oxygen (O), atomic nitrogen (N), and also helium (He) space the main contents of air.

Much the the X-ray and also UV radiation from the sun is absorbed in the thermosphere. When the sun is very active and also emitting more high energy radiation, the thermosphere it s okay hotter and also expands or "puffs up". Due to the fact that of this, the elevation of the height of the thermosphere (the thermopause) varies. The thermopause is uncovered at one altitude in between 500 km and also 1,000 km or higher. Plenty of satellites orbit within the thermosphere and changes in the thickness of (the very, very thin) waiting at orbital altitudes, brought on by heating and expansion that the thermosphere, generates a drag force on satellites. Designers must take this varying drag right into account once calculating orbits, and satellites occasionally have to be boosted higher to counter the effects of the traction force.

High-energy solar photons also tear electrons far from gas corpuscle in the thermosphere, creating electrically-charged ion of atoms and also molecules. Earth"s ionosphere, written of several regions of such ionized corpuscle in the atmosphere, overlaps with and also shares the same room with the electrically neutral thermosphere.

Like the oceans, Earth"s environment has waves and also tides in ~ it. These waves and tides aid move energy around within the atmosphere, including the thermosphere. Winds and also the in its entirety circulation in the thermosphere are largely driven by these tides and waves. Relocating ions, dragged along by collisions v the electrically neutral gases, produce powerful electrical currents in some components of the thermosphere.

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Finally, the aurora (the Southern and also Northern Lights) primarily happen in the thermosphere. Charged particles (electrons, protons, and other ions) from room collide with atoms and also molecules in the thermosphere at high latitudes, amazing them into higher energy states. Those atoms and also molecules shed this excess power by create photons that light, i beg your pardon we check out as vivid auroral displays.