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我们的大气层正在逃离! – 译学馆
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Our Atmosphere is Escaping!

我们的行星被极脆弱 ,纤细的气体层所包裹, 它使我们温暖以及让气候
Our planet is surrounded by a wispy-thin layerof gas that keeps us warm and allows weather
变换以维持所有生命在地球上生活的基础条件 , 除了 …我们珍贵的
to happen and basically makes all of lifeon Earth possible. Except… that precious
atmosphere of ours is actually leaking, everysecond, into outer space.
幸运的是, 它逃离的非常缓慢, 拿一些对象作参照 ,如气体里的一个分子, 一个火箭里的分子
Luckily, it’s a really slow leak, since forany object–be it a molecule of gas, a rocket,
或一只猫里的 , 让我们突破地球引力的范围来到外太空, 声
or a cat — to break the tether of Earth’sgravity and escape, it has to hightail it
out of here at 34 times the speed of sound.
这相当于一公吨的TNT以此速度推动人的能量, 以及较少
It takes the energy of a metric tonne of TNTto boost a person to that speed, and less
点燃物体的能量 ,猫的十分之一, 例如 , 排除一个大的小行星
energy for lighter objects: 1/10th of thatfor a cat, for example. Barring a large asteroid
撞击能喷射出大片的大气到太空中去, 现今唯一能够定期的
impact that can eject large swaths of atmosphereinto space, the only gases that regularly
escape Earth’s atmosphere today are Hydrogenand Helium – the lightest elements in the
There are a few ways hydrogen and helium moleculescan wind up on a one-way mission to space.
一些靠近顶层大气 ,能借以足够的太阳的热量来逃离
Some, near the top of the atmosphere simplyget enough energy from the sun’s heat to escape.
其它的 ,被高能量所控制的粒子 ,会经常被阻隔尤其是
Others are high-energy charged particles thatwould usually be stopped from escaping by
被来自地球的磁场。 有时 , 尽管这些敏捷的无电子粒子
the Earth’s magnetic field. Occasionally,though, these speedy electron-lacking particles
以足够的力冲击中性分子使其松散, 以及窃取 其中一个
crash into a neutral molecule with enoughforce to knock loose–and steal–one of its
电子 ,现在中性分子自身 , 来自地球磁场的加速颗粒
electrons. Now neutral itself, the speedingparticle is free of the earth’s magnetic field,
以及碰撞发生, 把它送到星星的轨道上去, 这就是它们将去的地方
and if the collision happens to set it ona course for the stars, that’s where it goes.
最终 ,一些地球上的磁场线被削弱以及被太阳风从地球上
Finally, some of Earth’s magnetic field linesare weakened and pushed away from the earth
推远 ,从太阳发出的暴烈的等离子体流 ,受控的粒子
by the solar wind, a violent stream of plasmaemanating from our sun. Charged particles
被这些磁场所引导能简单的飞出这个脆弱的边界 就像火花从
guided by these magnetic fields can simplyfly off the weak ends like sparks off a live
但 ,如果我们的行星没有一点磁场, 事情会变得更糟 ,火星
But if our planet didn’t have a magnetic fieldat all, things could be a lot worse. Mars,
例如 , 没有防护性磁场, 它拥有非常少量的大气 ,并被
for example, has no protective magnetic field,and so what little atmosphere it has is constantly
太阳风不断的猛烈冲击以及撕扯, 即使有防护罩 ,地球
buffeted and ripped away by the solar wind.Even with its protective bubble, Earth is
都在以每秒一米的速度丢失足够的氢来填充膨胀空间 ,不用担心 ,它将要
losing enough hydrogen to fill a meter-wideballoon every second. No need to worry – it’ll
花费几百亿年,直到我们以此方式丢失我们所有的氢, 但, 也许
take a few billion years before we lose allof our hydrogen this way, but maybe sometime
在很久的未来 一些人看着地球问, 就像我们现在对火星有一样的疑问
in the distant future, someone will look atEarth and ask, just as we do of Mars now:
Was there ever life on this chunk of rock?