Earth and her geocorona were recorded in 1972 with a camera operated by Apollo 16 astronauts on the moon. Image: NASA
The Earth's atmosphere reaches far beyond the Moon, much further than previously thought, according to a new study published in Space Physics .
When the outermost parts of the atmosphere merge with space There is a cloud of hydrogen atoms called Geocorona. According to the authors of the study, led by Igor Baliukin of the Russian Space Research Institute, this gas layer reaches 50 times the diameter of the planet.
This extends Earth's atmosphere range more than six times that estimated by the Southwest Research Institute, ending the Moon almost halfway through the end of Geocorona. 1
Earth's atmosphere is almost twice the size of the Moon. Image: ESA
The observations were taken by SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory), a satellite stationed about 930,000 miles from the Earth's surface on the sun-facing side of the planet. They were made between 1996 and 1998, shortly after the launch of the satellite, when the SOHO satellite had a good starting point to acquire an ultraviolet image of the Earth's atmosphere using sensors capable of mapping the Geocorona.
I have no idea about that until we dust off the observations made over two decades ago, "Baliukin said.
The researchers emphasized that data collected years ago could be used for new science. For example, they said the findings could affect researchers looking for other planets with water reservoirs.
Planets with hydrogen in their exospheres have a higher chance of having water on their surface. Scientists looking for exoplanets that could contain liquid water – the key ingredient in life as we know it – could be looking for hydrogen in a planet's geocorona to detect the presence of water. Earth is a great comparative model for this type of study.
Who knows? Maybe hydrogen fumes are the secret to finding a planet where we can live when we need a new one.