Exosphere Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

The exosphere is the farthest and final layer of Earth's atmosphere. Come learn about the exosphere, what the temperature is like up there, what scientists really think about it, and some other cool facts about this part of our atmosphere.

What is the Exosphere?

Imagine being an astronaut on the International Space Station. When you look down, you can see the Earth and you feel so far from home. But you're not really in outer space. You haven't even left Earth's atmosphere. You are orbiting in the fourth layer of the atmosphere, but there's a fifth layer above you called the exosphere!

Five layers of the atmosphere
Five layers of the atmosphere

Earth's atmosphere has five layers that protect it, like a force field that protects spaceships in the movies. The exosphere is the fifth and final layer of Earth's atmosphere that fades into outer space.

The layer below the exosphere (the thermosphere) inflates like a balloon when it's hot and shrinks again when it cools off. So, the distance from Earth to the bottom of the exosphere gets moved up and down, like a roller coaster, changing with the temperature.

When the thermosphere is hot, the bottom of the exosphere is about 620 miles off the ground. But when the thermosphere is cool, the bottom drops and the exosphere is about 310 miles above the Earth.

Hot or Not?

The air on Earth has a lot of molecules, but the air in the exosphere is very thin with very few molecules floating around in it. When we feel heat on Earth, it's because the molecules in the air are moving around really fast. It's kind of like being in a ball pit filled with zillions of tiny balls that are flying all over the place and hitting you.

Although it's very hot in the exosphere, you would feel freezing cold. Even though the molecules are moving around really fast and are hot, there are so few of them they would probably never bump into you and you wouldn't feel any heat.

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