Did You Know That Satellites in Space Can Affect the Environment?

Artificial Satellites Are Creating a Hole in the Ozone Layer. How Does This Affect the Environment?.

Satellite in space

Both the United States and Russia and China have sent a large number of satellites into space that already forecast an environmental problem in the near future. Photo: Pixabay

LatinAmerican Post | Brandon Martínez Salazar

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Leer en español: ¿Sabías que los satélites en el espacio pueden afectar al medio ambiente?

The space race that the great powers of the world have initiated has caused great uncertainty. The United States, Russia, and China have sent a large number of satellites into space that will be an environmental problem in the near future.

Currently, there are about 7,200 tons of space debris that occupy space.  According to the Bauman State Technical Institute in Russia, this could affect data communications from satellites that measure climate change.

However, the concern is exacerbated by aluminum oxide, which is directly affecting the ozone layer and could have severe effects.

Could Space Debris Fall to Earth?

Yes. Although most of these objects found in space disintegrate on their way to earth, they are still a threat to the environment and even to space weather satellites. The problem is that nobody knows what to do with them because they have already set off alarms for years.

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In 2011, around 150 experts from all over the planet met in Madrid to discuss this problem and the need to monitor satellites with the help of radars and telescopes to prevent future damage to technological infrastructure and nature. Therefore, an alert system focused on three points was conceived. These points were: collisions in orbit, impact on natural conditions, and space weather.

In that sense, if the consequences of these wastes are not carefully anticipated, the earth could be exposed to extremely serious damage in the aforementioned contexts.

Ozone Layer Affected By Satellites

According to a recent study by the University of British Columbia, there are 5,000 active or missing satellites in low Earth orbit and about 40,000 under construction for launch in the coming years. All these artifacts are sent into space due to the need to create an information network that allows the development of better connectivity known as “mega-constellations”.

Although this is very important for science and humans, it does not justify the negative factor in the development of these technologies. Likewise, in recent months a new hole in the ozone layer has been observed, presumably due to artificial satellites.

In this case, when a satellite ends its useful life, the deterioration of the aluminum it is made of would be attacking the ozone layer. On the other hand, it is believed that Elon Musk in his Starlink project, implemented by Space X, is one of those responsible for such havoc on the ozone layer due to all the waste it leaves in Earth's orbit.

Therefore, at the end of their lifespan, the aluminum of these satellites burns and becomes reflective aluminum oxide, a highly toxic substance for the ozone layer that has generated the hole that the scientific community keeps under observation today and, which puts years of environmental conservation at risk. 

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