Earth's Atmosphere

Earth's atmosphere is about 78 percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen, with trace amounts of water, argon, carbon dioxide and other gases. The exact composition, as well as the temperature and pressure of the atmosphere, varies with its height. The atmosphere is divided into layers: The troposphere is the lowest layer and extends from Earth's surface up to a height of about 30 miles (48 kilometers); it is where most of Earth's weather occurs. Above the troposphere is the stratosphere, where the ultraviolet-blocking ozone layer is found. Above that is the mesosphere, the thermosphere and the ionosphere. Earth's atmosphere is home to different types of clouds, the auroras, different types of lightning.
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Latest Articles

Secret Weapon? Conspiracy Theories Abound as US Military Closes HAARP
HAARP in Alaska
May 22nd, 2014
HAARP, the ionospheric research program and longtime target for conspiracy theorists, is set to shut down this year, despite complaints from some scientists, who say the facility could still be useful.
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Rockets' Red Glare! NASA Marks Fourth of July with Double Launch
NASA Fourth of July Launch: Liftoff
July 4th, 2013
NASA launched two small rockets from Virginia's Eastern Shore on July 4 to probe the electrical currents of the Earth's ionosphere. The Daytime Dynamo mission launched after days of delay just in time for the U.S. Fourth of July holiday.
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'Gigantic Jet' Lightning Spotted Over China
Gigantic jet lightning
February 26th, 2013
Furthest from equator phenomenon has been observed.
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Origin of Mysterious Jellyfish Lightning 'Sprites' Revealed
A red sprite with a classic jellyfish shape
May 9th, 2014
The origin of the mysterious reddish lighting above thunderstorms, known as atmospheric sprites, has long puzzled scientists, but they now have some idea how it forms.
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Faint 'Red Arcs' Spotted Over Europe
Image of night sky with aurora and red arc
April 2nd, 2013
Advanced cameras helped scientists spot the phenomenon.
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Water Leaking Into Stratosphere Could Harm Ozone
Cirrus clouds
February 5th, 2013
More water than expected enters stratosphere, where it's a potent greenhouse gas.
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Why Do Stars Twinkle?
refract, light, earth's atmosphere, turbulence
December 29th, 2012
Stars twinkle as their light passes through pockets of Earth's atmosphere.
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New Alien Life Claim Far from Convincing, Scientists Say
Comets Contain Elements for Life
September 20th, 2013
A team of British researchers says a cell fragment found high up in Earth's atmosphere likely came from outer space. But such an extraordinary claim requires much more convincing evidence, outside scientists say.
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Balloon Flights Bring Near-Space Exploration to Masses
obama bobblehead owens valley
March 7th, 2013
You can launch a balloon mission to the stratosphere for about the cost of an iPad.
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Atmosphere of Venus Has Strange Magnetic 'Ropes'
Venus  Atmosphere Globe
January 10th, 2013
Scientists have discovered strange magnetic ropes hundreds of miles long above the poles of Venus.
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