Study finds Starlink satellites could be killing the ozone layer

Researchers penned a new study that states when Starlink satellites die and burn-up in Earth's atmosphere upon reentry they damage the ozone layer.

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A new study published in the Geophysical Researchers Letters by researchers from the University of California examined the impact that satellites in Earth's orbit have on the ozone layer when they plummet to their demise.

Study finds Starlink satellites could be killing the ozone layer 6545641

According to the satellite tracking website Orbiting Now, there are approximately 9,900 satellites in Earth's various orbits, and that number is growing every day as Earth becomes more reliant on technology and space becomes more accessible. When a satellite has ceased all of its operations and been deemed out of commission, it's typically disposed of by being forced to reenter Earth's atmosphere, where it burns up. But what impact do satellite fumes have on Earth's upper atmosphere?

The team behind the study looked at the small particles given off by a satellite burning up and found Starlink, along with many other satellites, release aluminum oxides upon reentry. Between 2016 and 2022 the number of oxides in Earth's atmosphere increased by eight, and these oxides negatively impact the ozone layer.

It's clear from this study that SpaceX's Starlink constellations aren't entirely to blame for the degradation of the ozone layer, but they may be significantly contributing with their growing fleet of more than 3,000 Starlink satellites currently in orbit. There are, of course, other factors that impact the health of the ozone layer, but it seems with each defunct satellite burnt upon reentry the ozone layer is being damaged.

For those that don't know, the ozone layer being damaged and becoming thinner means Earth is more exposed to indefinite showers of radiation spewed from the Sun.

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Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science, space, and artificial intelligence news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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