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Where does the Earth's atmosphere end... and where does space begin?

Where does the Earth’s atmosphere end… and where does space begin?

Mountain climbers carry oxygen cylinders, which allow them to breathe freely at higher altitudes where there is less oxygen than they would otherwise be at sea level.

Scientists determine the point from which each layer of the atmosphere begins, and where it ends, through 4 main features: temperature change, chemical composition, density, and the movement of gases within it.

With these features in mind, scientists ask: Where does the Earth’s atmosphere actually end up? Where does space begin? According to NASA, each layer of the atmosphere plays a role in ensuring the ability of the planet to host all types of life, by providing the necessary conditions for this, from blocking cosmic radiation that causes cancer to generating the pressure required to produce water.

“As you move away from the Earth’s surface, the atmosphere becomes less dense, the composition also changes, and the lighter atoms and molecules start to dominate, while the heavier molecules stay closer to the surface,” said Katrina Bossert, an astrophysicist at Arizona State University.

Scientists have identified the region where the air becomes too thin for conventional aircraft to fly at all, with this craft unable to generate enough lift, the end of our atmosphere and the beginning of space, known as the “Karmann Line”, named after Theodor von Karmann, The Hungarian-American physicist who, in 1957, became the first person to attempt to delineate the boundary between Earth and outer space.

Bossert said: “The Karmann line is an approximate area, indicating the height above which satellites will be able to orbit the Earth without burning up or falling out of orbit before orbiting the Earth at least once, and it is usually defined as 100 kilometers above the Earth, and it is possible for something Once it orbits the Earth at altitudes lower than the Karmann Line, but that requires a very high orbital velocity, which will be difficult to maintain due to friction, but nothing prevents that.”

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Bossert said: “The atmosphere does not disappear as soon as you enter the area where the satellites orbit, it is thousands and thousands of kilometers before the evidence of the Earth’s atmosphere disappears, and the very outer atoms of the Earth’s atmosphere, and the hydrogen atoms that make up the Earth’s crown, can extend.” The outer region of the atmosphere “beyond the moon”.

According to scientists, the Carmen line is not physical in itself, and therefore one will not notice its crossing, and it has no thickness. In principle, it is still possible to fly up to the Karman line, but in practice, animals cannot survive at altitudes higher than The “Armstrong limit”, which is approximately 20 kilometers above the surface, where pressures are so low that the fluid in the lungs boils.