Basics of Spaceflight Banner

Characteristics of Electromagnetic Energy

Based roughly on order of magnitude

Frequency Wavelength Example Attenuation
  3 kHz
3x103 Hz
100 km
100x103 m
Los Angeles  
Long-wave radio 30 kHz
30x103 Hz
10 km
10x103 m
Pasadena Ionosphere opaque
AM radio 300 kHz
300x103 Hz
1 km
1x103 m
JPL Ionosphere opaque
Short-wave radio 3 MHz
3x106 Hz
100 m
Football field Ionosphere opaque
VHF radio (FM), TV 30 MHz
30x106 Hz
10 m
  Ionosphere opaque
UHF radio, TV 300 MHz
300x106 Hz
1 m
Human child  
Microwave radio 3 GHz
3x109 Hz
100 mm
100x10-3 m
Microwave radio 30 GHz
30x109 Hz
10 mm
10x10-3 m
  Atmosphere opaque
except some wavelengths
  300 GHz
300x109 Hz
1 mm
1x10-3 m
Grain of sand Atmosphere opaque

Infrared light

3,000 - 10,000 Å
Visible light

Ultraviolet light
3 THz
3x1012 Hz
100 µ
100x10-6 m
  Atmosphere opaque
except some wavelengths
30 THz
30x1012 Hz
10 µ
10x10-6 m
Bacterium Atmosphere opaque
except some wavelengths
300 THz
300x1012 Hz
1 µ
1x10-6 m
RED = 564nm
Visible light
BLUE = 420nm

Atmosphere opaque
except some wavelengths
3 PHz
3x1015 Hz
100 nm
100x10-9 m
1,000 Å
Visible light window
30 PHz
30x1015 Hz
10 nm
10x10-9 m
Virus Atmosphere opaque
  300 PHz
300x1015 Hz
1 nm
1x10-9 m
  Atmosphere opaque
  3 EHz
3x1018 Hz
100 pm
100x10-12 m
Atom Atmosphere opaque
X-rays 30 EHz
30x1018 Hz
10 pm
10x10-12 m
  Atmosphere opaque
  300 EHz
300x1018 Hz
1 pm
1x10-12 m
  Atmosphere opaque
Gamma rays ZHz
3x1021 Hz
100 fm
100x10-15 m
  Atmosphere opaque
30x1021 Hz
10 fm
10x10-15 m
  Atmosphere opaque
300x1021 Hz
1 fm
1x10-15 m
Atomic nucleus Atmosphere opaque
3x1024 Hz
100 am
100x10-18 m
  Atmosphere opaque
30x1024 Hz
10 am
10x10-18 m
  Atmosphere opaque
300x1024 Hz
1 am
1x10-18 m
  Atmosphere opaque
Excerpts from Glossary:

      THz=TeraHertz         PHz=PetaHertz         EHz=ExaHertz         ZHz=ZettaHertz         YHz=YottaHertz        

      µ=micrometer, micron         nm=nanometer         pm=picometer         fm-femtometer         am=attometer        

Angstrom, Å, is 0.1 nm. Angsrtoms have traditionally been used to describe wavelengths of light. The nanometer is generally preferred today.

Skip Navigation