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Interesting Facts About the Atmosphere
We learn about the atmosphere in the school, and that is where the learning stops for most of us. We know that the atmosphere surrounds the Earth and contains the air we breathe to stay alive. We are aware of the basics of what atmospheric pressure is and how it works. The atmosphere is as basic and essential as is water, but there is still much to learn – much like we still have so much more to learn about the ocean. We are aware of the ozone layer and how it absorbs harmful UV radiation of the Sun. We are also cognizant of how the atmosphere influences the climate. However, there is not much we know about the atmosphere beyond this information. Isn’t that odd? If you want to learn more about the atmosphere, continue reading this article. Below we share some interesting and little known facts about the atmosphere that will increase your knowledge on the subject –
- Air – Our Earth’s atmosphere is primarily made up of 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen. It also contains small amounts of carbon dioxide, helium, neon, and argon.
- Toxic gases, smoke, volcanic ash, salt, and dust – all form contaminants to the atmosphere.
- Human negligence of the environment and irresponsible behavior greatly affects the atmosphere. The use of greenhouse gases and air contamination has led to global warming, which in turn has led to the destruction of the ozone belt and increasing instances of acid rain, which is damaging to the atmosphere.
- In the stratosphere, a special air molecule called ozone is found. Ozone is made up of three atoms of oxygen. A massive collection of these molecules form the ozone layer i.e., the protective layer which protects living beings on the planet from sun damage.
- Atoms – The outermost layer of the atmosphere or the exosphere contains dense amounts of hydrogen, helium, oxygen, and so on. The atoms and molecules in this layer are so distant from each other that they can travel for hundreds of kilometers without colliding with each other.
- In the second-highest layer of the atmosphere i.e. the thermosphere, the same molecules have to travel at least a kilometer before they can collide.
- Planets – The Earth’s atmosphere makes it conducive for life. The atmosphere of other planets does not provide the same conditions for life that our planet does. For example, – Mars has an incredibly thin atmosphere, mainly containing carbon dioxide. The temperature on Mars is too cold for life form as there are little greenhouse gas effect and low atmospheric pressure. SMH at the folks that think humans can survive on Mars. IKR!
- Moon – Research has recently found that the Moon has an atmosphere too. Although this atmosphere is very thin, the lunar surface too consists of gases such as helium, argon, carbon dioxide, methane, and oxygen, to name a few. It has been realized that even thin water molecules could exist on the Moon. However, the lunar atmosphere cannot absorb any radiation and requires constant replenishment of gases for this atmosphere to survive. Because of this, it wouldn’t be completely right to recognize this existing layer of gases on the Moon as an atmosphere.
Here’s hoping you found our article informative and knowledgeable. We bet you didn’t know the Moon had an atmosphere, did you? That’s a great conversation starter.
NASA of course is generally commissioned to study the Earth’s atmosphere among other things.
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One of the more mysterious gases that we are made from is argon. It is also referred to as Neon or Helium-3 because it is a very light gas, very dense, and very soft on the touch. It is a gas that many have speculated exists at very high temperatures; it was even thought to be the same as the pressure of a supernova explosion. But there are many theories on how this gas can exist at such high temperatures, including the possibility that it could be a combination of elements not found in nature.
Argon has a molecular structure that is similar to nitrogen, but more complicated. It also has some similarities to argon isotopes like potassium and neon. The only natural source of argon is in the earth’s atmosphere, where the argon in the atmosphere combines with other gasses in the atmosphere to form new elements. Argon is not currently considered a major element, though. Because of its molecular structure, argon is often referred to as the last element in the periodic table and is mentioned in a lot of scientific papers.
Argon in the atmosphere has a different chemical make up than when it is in the earth’s crust. If the argon gas inside the earth’s crust freezes and goes into the earth’s core, it would be much lighter than argon in the atmosphere. Argon that freezes and remains in the crust of the earth cannot be broken down to form elements by boiling or other physical processes. The situation is similar for argon in the atmosphere; if it freezes and remains in the atmosphere, it is still too dense and rigid to be changed into a new element. The atoms in the atmosphere do not have enough mass to be broken down into smaller particles by subatomic processes. Argon in the atmosphere is a rare gas indeed, which makes for a fun science project to figure out how it gets to earth’s surface.