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Atmospheric effects become noticeable during atmospheric reentry of spacecraft at an altitude of around 120 km (75 mi).
Several layers can be distinguished in the atmosphere, based on characteristics such as temperature and composition.
Various industrial pollutants also may be present as gases or aerosols, such as chlorine (elemental or in compounds), fluorine compounds and elemental mercury vapor.
Sulfur compounds such as hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide (SO Earth's atmosphere Lower 4 layers of the atmosphere in 3 dimensions as seen diagonally from above the exobase.
The study of Earth's atmosphere and its processes is called atmospheric science (aerology).
Early pioneers in the field include Léon Teisserenc de Bort and Richard Assmann.
The Kármán line, at 100 km (62 mi), or 1.57% of Earth's radius, is often used as the border between the atmosphere and outer space.
Because the general pattern of the temperature/altitude profile is constant and measurable by means of instrumented balloon soundings, the temperature behavior provides a useful metric to distinguish atmospheric layers.
In this way, Earth's atmosphere can be divided (called atmospheric stratification) into five main layers.
The atmosphere of Earth is the layer of gases, commonly known as air, that surrounds the planet Earth and is retained by Earth's gravity.
The atmosphere of Earth protects life on Earth by creating pressure allowing for liquid water to exist on the Earth's surface, absorbing ultraviolet solar radiation, warming the surface through heat retention (greenhouse effect), and reducing temperature extremes between day and night (the diurnal temperature variation).