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The Spring 2011 issue of The Earth Scientist is focused on modernizing seismology education. Thanks to IRIS, you can download this issue for free as a pdf. Print copies are available in our online store.

Photo courtesy of Jyrki Manninen

The Ionosphere

Scientists call the ionosphere an extension of the thermosphere. So technically, the ionosphere is not another atmospheric layer. The ionosphere represents less than 0.1% of the total mass of the Earth's atmosphere. Even though it is such a small part, it is extremely important!

The upper atmosphere is ionized by solar radiation. That means the Sun's energy is so strong at this level, that it breaks apart molecules. So there ends up being electrons floating around and molecules which have lost or gained electrons. When the Sun is active, more and more ionization happens!

Different regions of the ionosphere make long distance radio communication possible by reflecting the radio waves back to Earth. It is also home to auroras.

Temperatures in the ionosphere just keep getting hotter as you go up!

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The Fall 2009 issue of The Earth Scientist, which includes articles on student research into building design for earthquakes and a classroom lab on the composition of the Earth’s ancient atmosphere, is available in our online store.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA