Jump through the atmosphere

[caption id="attachment_533" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="By Project Stratos"][/caption]

As is the case with all of my other classes, Earth and Environmental Science concluded the first half of the semester yesterday. I'm sure that by now all of the students are reveling in their Spring Break freedom. The first 9 weeks of the class have been fun. We've had our challenges, but have pushed on together. The week in reviews (2/27-3/2) found below do a fantastic job of recounting the content that we learned this week. 

I would, however, like to make an addition to the post. Just recently I was made aware of Red Bull Project Stratos. First a little backstory. In 1961 military pilot Joe Kittinger successfully completed the world's longest free fall. After riding a helium balloon 102,000 ft. into the stratosphere he lept. Amazingly, 51 years later his record remains unbroken. When the term Red Bull is mentioned I generally conjure images of extreme athletes and energy drinks. Never would I make the connection between Red Bull and legitimate science. This year, though, Red Bull is completing a 3 year project that is sending Felix Baumgartner to a 120,000 ft. jumping point. If all goes well Felix will complete the world's highest skydive, longest free fall, and be the first human to break the sound barrier with their body. All in a day's work. Right?

Our study of the atmosphere this week afforded us the opportunity to take a look at the incredible science surrounding Project Stratos. We also were able to relate the jump to our study of the atmosphere. During his fall Felix will experience atmospheric temperatures as low as -80 degrees and will not encounter any friction from air molecules until the last 50,000 ft. of his jump. Pretty incredible stuff. After you read our fantastic week in review reports, I would encourage everyone to go check out the sight (link above),

Michelle Dewitt begins:

This week we learned that the amosphere is composed of 3 different layers and how each layer is unique. There are five layers; the troposphere, the stratosphere, the mesosphere, the thermosphere, and the exosphere. The troposphere is the layer closest to Earth and it contains water vapor. It is also the heaviest layer. The stratosphere is second. It's composed of mostly ozone gas, which absorbs the sun's ultraviolet rays. In this layer the temperature rises from the bottom to the top. The mesosphere contains no ozone and the temperature decreases with height. The thermosphere contains very few molecules. The temperature can be one thousand degrees Celsius, but is would not burn you. The last layer is the exosphere. This layer contains mostly helium and hydrogen. We also talked about what the atmosphere is composed of and the different kinds of heat transfer through the atmosphere. These include radiation, conduction, and convection.

LaTosha Ruffin adds:

This week we learned a lot about the moon and the sun. We learned about the lunar phases and eclipses. We also learned about the sun and the layers of the atmosphere. We learned many things that were interesting, but learning about the layers of the atmosphere was the most interesting to me. Something I never knew that I learned was that the composition of Earth's atmosphere is nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor, and other gases. Nitrogen is 78%, oxygen is 21%, and water vapor and other gases is 1%. We did an activity where we learned the different layers of the atmosphere. We plotted the points of the altitude and temperature and then labeled the different layers in order. This activity really helped me learn the different atmospheres and what it is made of.