Q:

What is the composition of the thermosphere?

A:

Quick Answer

The thermosphere consists primarily of oxygen, nitrogen and a helium. This layer of the Earth’s atmosphere lies below the exosphere and above the mesosphere, between 56 and 621 miles above the surface of the Earth.

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Full Answer

Gases below the thermosphere contain different types of molecules and atoms which are bound and mixed together by turbulence. However, frequent collisions are not common in the thermosphere as gases in this region are broken apart by X-ray and ultraviolet photons from the sun. These high-energy photons strip gas particles of their electrons, which creates an electrically-charged region of molecules and atoms.

The thermosphere absorbs the bulk of UV and X-ray radiation from the sun, which cause temperatures to rise. Temperatures in the thermosphere vary based on location within the region and the sun’s activity levels. Temperatures increase sharply in the lower portion of the thermosphere, then flatten and remain steady in the middle and upper regions. The thermosphere is roughly 360 degrees Fahrenheit hotter during the day than at night. Temperatures in the upper region range from 930 degrees Fahrenheit to more than 3,600 degrees.

Because the thermosphere is located in the upper atmosphere, the atmospheric pressure of the thermosphere is minuscule relative to that of the Earth’s surface.

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Related Questions

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    How much oxygen is in the air?

    A:

    Since the atmosphere has a mass of approximately 5.15 x 10^18 kilograms, the total mass of oxygen in the atmosphere is approximately 1.08 x 10^18 kilograms. Oxygen makes up approximately 20.9 percent of the Earth's atmosphere.

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    What are the layers of Earth's atmosphere from highest to lowest?

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    What are some facts about the exosphere?

    A:

    As the highest layer of the atmosphere, the Earth's exosphere contains very thin air and features both lower and upper boundaries. The exosphere's boundaries vary by altitude depending on the level of the sun's activity and solar radiation emissions. There is some debate among scientists as to whether the exosphere should be considered a layer of the atmosphere or a part of space.

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    What is the altitude of the thermosphere?

    A:

    The altitude of the thermosphere stretches between 56 and 621 miles above Earth. The thermosphere is located between layers called mesosphere and exosphere. All three are atmospheric layers of the planet Earth.

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