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Layers of the Earth's Atmosphere

The atmosphere is divided into five layers. It is thickest near the surface and thins out with height until it eventually merges with space.

1) The troposphere is the first layer above the surface and contains half of the Earth's atmosphere. Weather occurs in this layer.
2) Many jet aircrafts fly in the stratosphere because it is very stable. Also, the ozone layer absorbs harmful rays from the Sun.
3) Meteors or rock fragments burn up in the mesosphere.
4) The thermosphere is a layer with auroras. It is also where the space shuttle orbits.
5) The atmosphere merges into space in the extremely thin exosphere. This is the upper limit of our atmosphere.

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Last modified November 7, 2010 by Roberta Johnson.

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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