NASA Space Place: Ionosphere

An interesting layer called the ionosphere overlaps the mesospherethermosphere, and exosphere.

It’s a very active part of the atmosphere, and it grows and shrinks depending on the energy it absorbs from the sun. Its name comes from the fact that gases in these layers are excited by solar radiation to form “ions,” which have an electrical charge.

Parts of the ionosphere overlap with Earth’s magnetosphere. That’s the area around Earth where charged particles feel Earth’s magnetic field.

In the ionosphere, charged particles are affected by the magnetic fields of both Earth and the sun. This is where auroras happen. Those are the bright, beautiful bands of light that you sometimes see near Earth’s poles. They’re caused by high-energy particles from the sun interacting with the atoms in this layer of our atmosphere.



Launched in 1998, NASA Space Place’s mission is to inspire and enrich upper-elementary-aged kids’ learning of space and Earth science online through fun games, hands-on activities, informative articles and engaging short videos.

With material in both English and Spanish and resources for parents and teachers, NASA Space Place has something for everyone.

Science Topics
3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade

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