You can consider most satellites to be in space, but in terms of the Earth’s atmosphere, they occupy regions called the thermosphere and the exosphere. The layer through which a satellite orbits depends on the satellite’s function and the kind of orbit it has. Since the launch of Sputnik in the 1950s, spacefaring countries have put thousands of satellites into orbit around the Earth and even other planets. They serve many different purposes, from complex space stations like the International Space Station to the Global Positioning System that helps you find your way home.

Thermosphere: High Temperatures

The thermosphere is a region of very high temperature that extends from the top of the mesosphere at around 85 kilometers (53 miles) up to 640 kilometers (400 miles) above the Earth’s surface. It is called the thermosphere because temperatures can reach up to 1,500 degrees Celsius (2,732 degrees Fahrenheit). However, despite the high temperatures, the pressure is very low, so satellites don’t suffer heat damage.

Exosphere: Farthest Reaches

Above the thermosphere sits a final layer called the exosphere, which extends up to 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles) above the Earth, depending on how it is defined. Some definitions of the exosphere include all space up until the point where atoms get knocked away by solar wind. No distinct upper boundary exists since the exosphere has no pressure and molecules float freely here. Eventually, the exosphere gives way to space outside of the Earth’s influence.

Credit: Sciencing

Picture credit: Google

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