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Stratospheric is the adjective of Stratosphere which means the layer of the earth's atmosphere above the troposphere, extending to about 50 km above the earth's surface.

People say A stratospheric success, so what does it mean?

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    "INFORMAL very high or ​great: It's an ​amazing ​camera, but the ​price is stratospheric! The ​project had ​proved a stratospheric ​success." (Camb. dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/stratospheric )
    – Kris
    May 2 '16 at 9:55
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    With similar meaning and an ascending connotation, you may find a "skyrocketing" success. For example,*his blood pressure was skyrocketing, and he had an heart attack".
    – Graffito
    May 2 '16 at 10:26
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    It's being used as a metaphor. The stratosphere is really high.
    – Hot Licks
    May 2 '16 at 11:55
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The stratosphere is the layer above the troposphere but below the mesosphere and the thermosphere.

So while the stratosphere is only the 3rd highest atmospheric level for our planet, it is used in the word Stratospheric to describe something extremely high. So something that is a stratospheric success is an amazing success.

Tropospheric, Mesospheric and Thermospheric are also used as adjectives, but they are only used to describe atmospheric nouns and subjects. Stratospheric is the only atmosphere layer that is used as an adjective outside of atmospheric conditions.

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  • At the time the non-meteorologist laymen coined the metaphor, strato- was probably the highest identified level. "Asking for the moon"/ "Promising the moon," as if moon is the hardest/ farthest thing to get down to earth.
    – Kris
    May 11 '16 at 15:24

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