Resident Weekly

A Exclusive Current Affairs Platform


A Study Suggests that the Ozone Layer May be Being Destroyed by SpaceX’s Starlink Satellites

The ozone layer’s ability to protect Earth is probably being destroyed along with SpaceX’s Starlink satellites.

This is because the satellites leave behind tiny particles of aluminum oxide that cause the ozone layer to weaken when they burn up and fall into Earth’s atmosphere. These oxides have surged eight-fold between 2016 and 2022 and will continue to build as the number of low-Earth-orbit satellites increases, according to a report released last week by researchers at the University of Southern California on the demise process of satellites.

While SpaceX is a frontrunner in this field, Amazon and other global firms are also building constellations of three to thirteen thousand satellites. Six thousand Starlink satellites that were launched in the past few years comprise the 8,100 items that are presently in low Earth orbit. Because of this, scientists have dubbed the current age “the era of satellite mega-constellations.”

It is concerning that they might harm Earth’s ozone layer because that layer of the stratosphere functions as a kind of sunscreen. One of its jobs is to shield life forms from the sun’s UV rays, but scientists warn that the increasing number of satellites may endanger the ozone hole’s ability to recover over Antarctica. By “near the middle of the 21st century,” the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that, given that emissions of ozone-depleting compounds continue to drop, the ozone layer will have completely recovered.

However, SpaceX is not pausing. SpaceX wants to have 42,000 satellites in orbit by the time demand for internet access increases worldwide. Starlink dishes are currently available for purchase at Walmart, Target, Home Depot, and other physical locations, indicating that Elon Musk’s spaceship company is also addressing potential customers there.

Satellites are a “sleeping threat,” according to researchers, who also pointed out that they have a pollution cycle. Ultimately, the ozone layer is destroyed by the harmful interactions that their oxides cause to occur between ozone and chlorine. According to research, ozone molecules can be destroyed for decades as they descend through the stratosphere.

The fact that this possible harm is done in order to prolong the satellites’ very brief lifespan of five years has led experts to refer to this as a cycle of “planned obsolescence.”

In addition to ozone depletion, several scientists have warned of potential satellite impacts. For example, astronomers are concerned that they obstruct views of the universe. Furthermore, scientists point out that previous study on satellite pollution mostly concentrated on the fallout from space flight, such as rocket fuel leaks.

However, this most recent study provides the first accurate assessment of the amount of this persistent contamination in the upper atmosphere. The results are based on an examination of the materials used in the satellites to determine how they react to various energy sources.

According to Joseph Wang, a corresponding author of the study and astronautics expert at the University of Southern California, “people have only started to think this might become a problem in recent years.” “We were one of the first teams to look at what the implication of these facts might be.”

One of the most significant effects occurred in 2022, very recently. Aluminum in the atmosphere rose by reentering satellites to over 29% over normal levels, and this rate is predicted to increase.

The aluminum oxides would take up to 30 years to reach stratospheric heights, depending on particle size. Therefore, experts anticipate that 912 metric tons of aluminum will fall to Earth year by the time the currently planned satellite constellations are completed. The chemical compound will increase by 646 percent over natural levels due to the tons of aluminum oxides that are introduced to the atmosphere each year.

error: Content is protected !!