MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Schematic representation of the four lowest layers in Earth's atmosphere. The bottom layer, the one that we all live in, is the troposphere, extending to an altitude of about 15 km (9 miles). Passenger jets can be found here, usually no higher than about 10 km (6 miles). Above this is the stratosphere, from 15 to 50 km (9 to 31 miles). Here resides the bulk of the ozone layer. Weather balloons and stealth jets can attain this altitude. Next is the mesosphere, from 50 to 100 km (31 to 62 miles). Some bright meteors (fireballs) can penetrate to the bottom of this layer. It is also where the highest altitude clouds reside - the noctilucent clouds, at around 80 km (50 miles). Finally, above the mesosphere is the thermosphere, where most meteors burn up and the aurora are created, and which goes up to about 500 km (310 miles).
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