Middle and Upper Atmosphere

2009 Leonid Meteor Shower, Author: Navicore
2009 Leonid Meteor Shower, Author: Navicore

The mesosphere begins at about 50 km and extends up to about 90 km. This is the coldest region of the Earth’s atmosphere, with temperatures reaching as low as 120 K at the summer mesopause. Above the mesopause temperatures begin to rise in the atmospheric region known as the thermosphere, which extends for several hundred kilometres. Also, above about 70 km the atmosphere contains significant concentrations of ions and electrons, due to energetic solar photons colliding with atoms and molecules and ionizing them. This region is known as the ionosphere.

Our group is interested in the atmospheric chemistry of the metals that ablate from meteoroids at altitudes between 70 and 120 km in the Earth’s atmosphere and the many unusual phenomena that arise from this extraterrestrial input of material.

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