ionosphere [%PREMIUM_LINK%] (ī-ŏn'ə-sfîr') Pronunciation Key |
A region of the Earth's upper atmosphere, extending from a height of 70 km (43 mi) to 400 km (248 mi) and containing atoms that have been ionized by radiation from the Sun. The ionosphere lies mostly in the lower thermosphere and is subdivided into three regions, the D region (70 km to 90 km; 43 to 56 mi), the E region (90 km to 150 km; 56 to 93 mi), and the F region (150 km to 400 km; 93 to 248 mi). The concentration of ionized atoms is lowest in the D region, intermediate in the E region, and highest in the F region. The ionosphere is useful for radio transmission because radio waves, which normally propagate in straight lines, are reflected off the ionized gas particles, thereby being transmitted long distances across the Earth's curved surface. See more at D region, E region, F region.