Canadian researchers are bringing to the forefront a rather old cliché that could in the near future find meaning at the scientific level. According to the study, climate change could be worsened due to satellite constellations.
The constellations of satellites pointed out
Older people today continue to claim that satellites are the cause of the current climate change. If it’s not that simple, that kind of claim could really make sense in the future, as a study published in the journal explains. Scientific Reports on May 20, 2021. According to Aaron C. Boley of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, satellite constellations could be a problem for the climate after their final placement.
Asked by Space.com, the interested party spoke of the ozone layer protecting our planet from harmful radiation from the sun. However, it could suffer as has already been the case in the past. In question, the Starlink constellation of SpaceX, which will eventually include between 12,000 and 42,000 satellites in low orbit. Let us also mention competing projects such as OneWeb and its 600 satellites or that of the Chinese government – nearly 13,000 objects.
According to Aaron C. Boley, satellites would eventually finish their course in our atmosphere. And if the Earth’s atmosphere has a long tradition of accommodating many objects, satellites incorporate materials very different from meteorites and other classic celestial objects.
A problematic material: alumina
The authors of the study explain that the first generation of Starlink should be at the origin of two tonnes of satellites out of service penetrating the earth’s atmosphere daily. However, if meteorites are mainly made of oxygen, magnesium and silica, satellites are made of aluminum. If meteorites also contain this material, the proportion is nevertheless very low: only 1%.
The point is that burning aluminum produces aluminum oxide (alumina). However, the two daily tons in question could be a real problem for the climate of the earth. In the lead, the ozone layer, which is already impacted during rocket launches because the consumption of certain fuels generates alumina. Thus, combustion in the atmosphere of satellites at the end of their life could accentuate the presence of alumina and unfortunately, forming new holes in the ozone layer.
Finally, the scientists raised another point. According to them, these future alumina fallout will represent the most important uncontrolled geoengineering experience of human history. The consequences of this phenomenon on the climate are obviously very difficult to predict, so that it is not impossible that they could be disastrous.