ion·​o·​sphere | \ ī-ˈä-nə-ˌsfir How to pronounce ionosphere (audio) \

Definition of ionosphere

: the part of the earth's atmosphere in which ionization of atmospheric gases affects the propagation of radio waves, which extends from about 30 miles (50 kilometers) to the exosphere, and which is contiguous with the upper portion of the mesosphere and the thermosphere also : a comparable region of charged particles surrounding another celestial body (such as Venus)

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Other Words from ionosphere

ionospheric \ ˌī-​ˌä-​nə-​ˈsfir-​ik How to pronounce ionospheric (audio) , -​ˈsfer-​ \ adjective
ionospherically \ ˌī-​ˌä-​nə-​ˈsfir-​i-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce ionospherically (audio) , -​ˈsfer-​ \ adverb

Examples of ionosphere in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Their best guess was that a STEVE originated in the ionosphere, an upper part of the Earth's atmosphere. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The Science Behind Earth's Strangest Light Phenomena," 29 Apr. 2019 The spacecraft beams two civilian signals to the planet, which gives the GPS III the ability to directly detect and correct errors caused by the ionosphere. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "USAF's Next-Gen GPS Satellites Will Be a Huge Upgrade...Eventually," 26 Dec. 2018 The problem is that humans can’t study this kind of thing from Earth because our homeworld's ionosphere blocks the view of Saturn’s radiation. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "Saturn and Its Moon Enceladus Talk To Each Other. The Sound Is Perfectly Cosmic and Eerie.," 10 July 2018 In addition, the team could gather useful observations only at low altitudes and when the spacecraft was on the night side of Mars because the sun excites the ionosphere of the planet, which blocks radar signals. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "Underground Lake of Liquid Water Detected on Mars," 25 July 2018 And the ionosphere's signal fluctuates both with the seasons and based on what's going on with space weather. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Simple telescope picks up hint of the Universe’s first stars, dark matter," 28 Feb. 2018 The ionosphere is where high-energy cosmic rays collide with our atmosphere and the Northern Lights appear. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "A Group of Scientists Want to Launch a Satellite to Make an Artificial Aurora," 29 Oct. 2018 Many of those ions accumulate in (surprise!) the ionosphere. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, "Oxygen ions may be an easy-to-track sign of life on exoplanets," 16 Feb. 2018 As a result of this launch profile, the rocket maintained a nearly vertical trajectory all the way through much of the Earth's ionosphere, which ranges from about 60km above the planet to 1,000km up. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "SpaceX launch last year punched huge, temporary hole in the ionosphere," 22 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ionosphere.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ionosphere

1926, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ionosphere

ion or ion(ization) + -o- + -sphere

Note: The term was introduced by the British engineer and physicist Robert A. Watson-Watt (1892-1973), apparently first in an unpublished letter (November 8, 1926) to the secretary of the Radio Research Board, a government agency (see Nature, vol. 224, December 13, 1969, p. 1096). Watson-Watt used it in print in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, vol. 55 (1929), p. 278.

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Last Updated

12 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for ionosphere

The first known use of ionosphere was in 1926

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More Definitions for ionosphere


ion·​o·​sphere | \ ī-ˈä-nə-ˌsfir How to pronounce ionosphere (audio) \

Kids Definition of ionosphere

: the part of the earth's atmosphere beginning at an altitude of about 30 miles (50 kilometers) and extending outward that contains electrically charged particles

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More from Merriam-Webster on ionosphere

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ionosphere

Spanish Central: Translation of ionosphere

Nglish: Translation of ionosphere for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about ionosphere

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