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2

and doesn't really quit until about 20,000 miles from the

Earth's

surface.

It

is

in

this

layer

that

the

two

van

Allen

radiation

belts

lie.

beautiful

It

is

aurora

also

occur.

in

this

Beyond

layer,

20,000

over

the

poles,

miles

there

is

where

the

still

an

atmosphere of sorts, though it is created by the Sun's activities.

The Sun spews forth matter and energy referred to as the

solar

wind.

This

wind

extends

out

into

the

further

reaches

of our solar system and continues beyond, into interstellar space.

As

the

Sun

spws

forth

greater

amounts

of

matter

and

nergy

during high sunspot periods, which occur regularly every 11 years,

the

energy

heats

the

Earth's

ionosphere.

The

ionosphere

is

much

like a gas and as it is heated it expands, more molecules and ions

from lower altitudes fill more space at higher altitudes.

This increasing density cause the velocity of objects in

space,

such

as

Skylab,

to

slow.

The

physics

of

placing

an

object

in

Earth orbit are determined by many factors, but orbital speed is

related

directly

to

orbital

altitude.

An

object

in

a

particular

orbit will decay to a lower orbit if its speed decreases.

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