Earth's atmosphere reaches twice the distance to the moon

Credit: TomoNews US
Published on February 22, 2019 - Duration: 01:16s

Earth's atmosphere reaches twice the distance to the moon

WASHINGTON — New research from ESA and NASA show the real size of Earth's geocorona.

New observations from a study by the European Space Agency and NASA show that Earth's geocorona, an atmospheric layer made of hydrogen atoms, reaches up to 630,000 kilometers or 391,000 miles away.

That is the equivalent of 50 times the Earth's diameter and double the distance to the Moon.

According to the paper published in AGU's Journal of Geophysical Research, the team made these observations using an instrument mounted on a satellite called the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO.

The SOHO orbits some 1.5 million kilometers from Earth towards the Sun and mainly studies Earth's interactions with the Sun.

It is equipped with a remote tool called Solar Wind Anisotropies, or SWAN.

The SWAN is capable of detecting hydrogen signatures in the outer layer of Earth's atmosphere by using an absorption cell.

These new findings could help researchers look for watery planets with similar atmospheres outside of our solar system.

When you think of it, this means astronauts and spacecraft that have traveled to the Moon technically never left the Earth's atmosphere.

Pretty neat, right?

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