The Heterosphere

The heterosphere is characterized by variable chemical composition with regions that are dominated by only a few atomic or molecular species.  Because there is no convective heating at this height, the material found in the heterosphere is layered according to its mass.  The lower levels are dominated by nitrogen and oxygen molecules, oxygen atoms are found in the next layer and then helium and free hydrogen atoms near the boundary of the earth's atmosphere.

The lower heterosphere also consists of a small area dominated by ionic species or free radicals. such as O+, NO+, O2+ , N2+ , and free electrons.  This region of the atmosphere is called the ionosphere .  The chemistry in the ionosphere features numerous photodissociation reactions, light induced breaking of chemical bonds, and photoionization processes, light induced removal of electrons.

Quick Quiz: Which of the following statements about the heterosphere is true?

The chemical composition of the heterosphere is very homogeneous.
Each layer of the homosphere has a large variety of chemical species in it.
Chemical composition of various layers in the heterosphere is determined by the relative masses of the chemicals.
The heterosphere is the region of the atmosphere that is closest to the earth's surface.

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