Exploring Earth's leaky atmosphere

Dr. Douglas Rowland, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Humanity has discovered thousands of planets beyond our solar system. These have different sizes, histories, stellar heating, etc. Such factors control whether these planets might be expected to support life. One of the major determinants of habitability is the presence of an atmosphere that is thick enough, but not too thick. A huge surprise of the space age was the observation that some of Earth’s oxygen is being expelled into space by giant “atmospheric fountains”. Fountains such as these may be important in controlling the atmospheric pressure on other planets, on timescales of  billions of years. I will present measurements of such atmospheric fountains that we have observed with NASA sounding rockets in Svalbard and Alaska in 2018 and 2013.

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Dr. Douglas Rowland has worked at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center since 2003, and currently serves as the Chief of the Laboratory for Ionosphere, Thermosphere, Mesosphere Physics. Since 1998 Dr. Rowland has been involved in over a dozen rocket missions to study phenomena, taking rockets to Andøya, Ny-Ålesund, Alaska, the Marshall Islands, and Virginia, to study the aurora, lightning, and a host of other fascinating phenomena in near-Earth space.


A light meal will be served from 12.00 (talk starts at appr. 12.15).

Published Aug. 26, 2022 2:39 PM - Last modified Aug. 26, 2022 2:39 PM