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Satellites like Starlink may be damaging Earth's ozone layer, study finds

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Jun19,2024

Satellites like Starlink could harm Earth's ozone layer — research

Networks of satellites like Elon Musk's Starlink could damage Earth's protective ozone layer when they are taken out of orbit. The release of thousands of satellites can increase the emission of aluminum oxides by 650% more than the natural level.

According to according to them, giant satellite clusters emit a large amount of aluminum oxide gas into the atmosphere, which can lead to the destruction of the ozone layer . As the Independent notes, SpaceX has launched more than 6,000 Internet satellites, and that number continues to grow, with each new model getting heavier.

Researchers from the University of Southern California claim that these satellites are designed to burn up in the atmosphere when their service life ends. During this, aluminum oxides deplete ozone, forcing it to react destructively with chlorine. Oxides can remain in the atmosphere and destroy the ozone layer for decades, researchers warn.

"Only in recent years have people started to think that this could become a problem. We were one of the first teams that started studying the consequences of these facts», — said Joseph Wang, one of authors of the study. Scientists are particularly concerned that the demand for global Internet coverage is driving the launch of small communication satellites.

The ozone layer in the Earth's atmosphere absorbs the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation, which can cause skin cancer and  reduce the yield of agricultural crops and the production of products.

"The impact on the environment from entering the atmosphere of satellites is currently insufficiently studied", — scientists say.

When a small satellite burns, about 30 kg of aluminum oxides are formed. According to researchers, only in 2022 the fall of satellites can lead to the formation of about 17 tons of tiny particles of aluminum oxide. According to scientists' estimates, when all the planned satellite groups are created, every year will be released into the atmosphere more than 350 tons of aluminum oxides. That is almost 650% higher than the natural atmospheric level.

SpaceX alone is authorized to launch 12,000 more Starlink satellites, while Amazon and other tech giants also plan to launch thousands of satellites in  the coming years.

«With the increasing number of cases of entry into the atmosphere, it is imperative to continue studying the issues highlighted in this study», — researchers say.

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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