The boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and space goes far beyond what we have thought so far. In fact, far above the moon.
The Earth’s atmosphere is difficult to examine as it is so extremely thin in the boundary of space. But now a research group has used data from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite, which is co-owned by ESA and Nasa, and discovered that the outermost atmosphere extends far beyond what the experts so far thought.
The outermost extension of the atmosphere, the exosphere, consists at the far end of a thin cloud of neutral hydrogen, which in English is called geocorona. It is this field that researchers have now discovered is further away, Nasa reports.
The moon moves in the middle of the atmosphere
So far, the conclusions have been that the boundary between the atmosphere and space goes about 200,000 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. This means that the moon has been considered to be outside our atmosphere with its distance of 384,400 kilometers from the Earth’s surface. The recent study shows that, on the contrary, the moon moves about in the middle of our atmosphere, as the SOHO data shows at least 630,000 kilometers.
The moon flies through the Earth’s atmosphere,” says physicist Igor Baliukin of Russia’s Space Research Institute in Science Alert.
Baliukin is one of the authors of the study presented in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics.