The atmosphere is the set of gases that surround the Earth. In its outermost part there is a specific layer, the ionosphere. Receives this name because being the layer closest to the Sun produces an ionization process due to the effect of solar radiation. Given this picture, there is ionization as a result of photons generated by solar energy . At this level of the atmosphere, the Sun’s energy is so powerful that it causes the molecules to separate and the electrons scatter and float independently.
One of the layers of the Earth’s atmosphere
In the ionosphere that surrounds the Earth there are electrons, atoms and molecules with electrical charges. This layer of the atmosphere is located between 50 and 1000 kilometers and constitutes less than 0.1% of the total mass that makes up the atmosphere.
The closest part of Earth is the troposphere, approximately 10 km away. Between the troposphere and the ionosphere there are three intermediate layers: mesosphere, thermosphere and exosphere.
The ionosphere also has a subdivision. The so-called D layer is located some 50 km away and its main function is to protect against space radiation. Above this is the E layer, characterized by its ionized gas (the ionization is not stable, but depends on the angle from which the solar radiation comes).
Then comes the F layer, which is responsible for the propagation of electromagnetic waves (at this level there is an F1 and another F2 layer, the first allows the absorption of electromagnetic waves and the second allows the maximum ionization moment in one day).
Current communications would not be possible if the ionosphere did not exist
This external structure of the atmosphere is what allows the propagation of radio waves through space, therefore, it is essential for communication and navigation systems. This layer allows radio waves to bounce and shortwave emitters to send their transmissions over the horizon. The ionosphere deflects signals from the GPS satellites.
It also acts as a protective layer for the Earth, as meteorites are disintegrated in it before reaching the Earth’s surface.
Finally, its most varied layers have a direct effect on the Earth’s geomagnetic field (the study of the mechanisms of the ionosphere has already made it possible to improve the prediction of earthquakes).
Planet Earth is not the only one with this particular layer of atmosphere, as planet Mars and the Moon also have their own ionosphere (it was the Soviets in the 1970s who first identified the lunar ionosphere).