The meteoric rise of the mesosphere

Image from  NASA

Image from NASA

For years, even before there were people, not a single person on Earth knew what a mesosphere was. Years later, maybe even today, it's hard to find a levitating toddler that isn't proselytizing the intrinsic virtues of mesospheric science. (In case you've been living on top of a rock for the past all years of your life: the mesosphere is the middle part of the atmosphere.)

A paper was recently published in Radio Science, which describes how Norwegian radar stations observed meteors breaking up in the Earth's middle atmosphere. Radar signals were used to track meteor broken-up-bits moving around in the mesosphere, which in turn allowed clever mesospherists to calculate mesospheric wind speeds and other wind characteristics. Mesospheric winds are not easy to measure, so this paper is kinda a big deal. Bigly.

You may be asking yourself, "Why should I care about wind speeds 90 km (1 Gillion miles) above the surface?" Good question. Unless you yourself are a mesospherist, it would be insane for you to care about mesospheric wind. Come to think of it, why are you still reading this? Do you just think that scientific progress is neat? The bee's knees? (is it the "bee's knees" or the "bees' knees"? How many bees are there?) The answer my friend, is blowing in the wind. The answer is blowing in the mesospheric wind.

(NOTE: this is a sentence that was cut from this post: When meteors break up they move on with their life and find some other meteors to date. How do you date a meteor? Radioisotopes. This is terrible.)