This diagram shows the physical phenomena and observing systems present at various heights in the atmosphere. At left is the height axis (kilometers on the left, miles on the right). At right is the temperature at various heights (Celsius on the left, Fahrenheit on the right). The color of the vertical bar shows cooling as one ascends through the troposphere and warming in an ascent through the stratosphere. High-flying planes are found near the tropopause, the cold, dry boundary region between the troposphere and stratosphere. Ozone is most concentrated in the lower stratosphere (bottom left).
A powerful new instrument heading to space this Saturday is expected to send back long-sought answers about greenhouse gases, atmospheric cleansers and pollutants, and the destruction and recovery of the ozone layer. Only a cubic yard in size but laden with technical wizardry, the High-Resolution Dynamic Limb Sounder (HIRDLS) will measure a slew of atmospheric chemicals at a horizontal and vertical precision unprecedented in a multi-year space instrument.
Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), University of Colorado, and University of Oxford developed HIRDLS (pronounced "hurdles") with funding from NASA and United Kingdom sources. The U.S. space agency plans to launch the 21-channel radiometer along with three other instruments July 10 aboard its Aura satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
HIRDLS will capture the chemistry and dynamics of four layers of the atmosphere that together span a region 8 to 80 kilometers (5 to 50 miles) above Earth’s surface: the upper troposphere, the tropopause, the stratosphere, and the mesosphere.
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