Earth’s atmosphere actually stretches to the Moon, say scientists

By Vignesh Giridharan | Published on 23 Feb 2019

The geocorona around our planet is large enough to envelop the Moon.

Earth’s atmosphere actually stretches to the Moon, say scientists

Want to modernise your banking loan application?

Build an application that analyses credit risk with #IBMCloud Pak for Data on #RedHat #OpenShift

Click here to know more



  • A new discovery has been made by scientists at SOHO
  • They believe the geocorona spreads all the way to the Moon
  • The geocorona is part of the Earth's atmosphere


A recent discovery made by the scientists at ESA/NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) is making all of us do a double take. According to the study, the gaseous layer around Earth covers a distance as big as 6,30,000 kilometres from the planet, enough to envelop the Moon. In other words, that’s fifty times the diameter of our planet. This observation is both interesting and surprising because this part of the atmosphere was believed to be far shorter in the past.

For a long time now, scientists have debated where Earth’s atmosphere actually ends. According to the definition accepted by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the Kármán line (or the line denoting the end of Earth’s atmosphere and the beginning of space) lies about 100 kilometres from the Earth’s surface. The new research made by scientists at SOHO is bound to question that definition once more.

“The Moon flies through Earth's atmosphere,” says Igor Baliukin of Russia’s Space Research Institute, the lead author of the paper that presents the study’s results. “We were not aware of it until we dusted off observations made over two decades ago by the SOHO spacecraft.” Around the area where Earth’s atmosphere merges into outer space is a cloud of hydrogen atoms called the geocorona. During the research, SWAN, one of the space instruments, was able to trace the hydrogen signature and tell us how exactly far the outskirts of the geocorona go.

According to the new study, sunlight compresses hydrogen atoms in the geocorona on Earth’s dayside and creates a region of increased density at night, which can only be observed from space. On the dayside, there are about 70 atoms per cubic centimetre at 60,000 kilometres from Earth and about 0.2 atoms near the Moon. “On Earth we would call it vacuum, so this extra source of hydrogen is not significant enough to facilitate space exploration,” adds Baliukin. He also believes these particles won’t pose any threat to astronauts who go exploring the moon again.

Cover image courtesy: NASA


Related Read: NASA's Opportunity Rover Mission on Mars concluded after 15 years of exploration

Vignesh Giridharan

Progressively identifies more with the term ‘legacy device’ as time marches on.

Digit caters to the largest community of tech buyers, users and enthusiasts in India. The all new Digit in continues the legacy of as one of the largest portals in India committed to technology users and buyers. Digit is also one of the most trusted names when it comes to technology reviews and buying advice and is home to the Digit Test Lab, India's most proficient center for testing and reviewing technology products.

We are about leadership-the 9.9 kind! Building a leading media company out of India.And,grooming new leaders for this promising industry. Protection Status