Oops! US Space Force may have accidentally punched a hole in the upper atmosphere

Sep 24, 2023
Not sure if it was the same one, but I live in Tioga County, NY and I recorded a rocket Thursday night going over us. My whole family witnessed it and I zoomed in, took a couple pictures and recorded it with my phone. This was 9/21/23 about 7pm.
Apr 4, 2020
The amount of rocket exhaust being dumped into this unbelievably thin part of the atmosphere is not being addressed. The upper atmosphere is nearly a vacuum. Blasting multiple launches through this layer *many* times per month will have long-term affects.
Detailed examination of the impact of modern space launches on the Earth's atmosphere is crucial, given booming investment in the space industry and an anticipated space tourism era. We develop air pollutant emissions inventories for rocket launches and re-entry of reusable components and debris in 2019 and for a speculative space tourism scenario based on the recent billionaire space race. This we include in the global GEOS-Chem model coupled to a radiative transfer model to determine the influence on stratospheric ozone (O3) and climate.

Due to recent surge in re-entering debris and reusable components, nitrogen oxides from re-entry heating and chlorine from solid fuels contribute equally to all stratospheric O3 depletion by contemporary rockets. Decline in global stratospheric O3 is small (0.01%), but reaches 0.15% in the upper stratosphere (∼5 hPa, 40 km) in spring at 60–90°N after a decade of sustained 5.6% a−1growth in 2019 launches and re-entries. This increases to 0.24% with a decade of emissions from space tourism rockets, undermining O3 recovery achieved with the Montreal Protocol. Rocket emissions of black carbon (BC) produce substantial global mean radiative forcing of 8 mW m−2 after just 3 years of routine space tourism launches. This is a much greater contribution to global radiative forcing (6%) than emissions (0.02%) of all other BC sources, as radiative forcing per unit mass emitted is ∼500 times more than surface and aviation sources. The O3 damage and climate effect we estimate should motivate regulation of an industry poised for rapid growth.

See: https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2021EF002612

The space sector is on the rise, with companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic making large investments in commercial spaceflights, and organisations like NASA continuing to power missions to space. However, the impact of such launches on the Earth’s atmosphere is still poorly understood.

A team of researchers from the University of Nicosia in Cyprus set out to study the extent to which rockets’ propulsion emissions can create significant heating and compositional changes in the atmosphere. To do so, the scientists investigated the heat and mass transfer and rapid mixing of the combustion byproducts for altitudes up to 67km into the atmosphere.

The findings of the study, published in Physics of Fluids, showed that rockets can have a significant impact on the Earth’s atmosphere.

“We show that pollution from rockets should not be underestimated, as frequent future rocket launches could have a significant cumulative effect on the Earth’s climate,” said co-author Ioannis Kokkinakis.

To come to this conclusion, the team modelled the exhaust gases and developed plume at several altitudes following a typical trajectory of a standard present-day rocket. They model the experiment as a prototypical example of a two-stage rocket to transport people and payloads into Earth’s orbit and beyond.

See: https://eandt.theiet.org/content/ar...-the-atmosphere-s-composition-research-finds/

A space physicist has said it's "quite possible" that a SpaceX rocket launched earlier this month made a hole in the Earth's ionosphere where the Earth's atmosphere stretches roughly 50 to 400 miles above Earth's surface, NASA said.

Jeff Baumgardner, a senior research scientist from Boston University, made the comments to Spaceweather. Transitory ionospheric holes have become more common as increasing numbers of rockets are launched,.

These holes are a decidedly temporary phenomenon as reionization occurs as soon as the sun rises reducing any effects felt on the surface.

A space physicist has said it's "quite possible" that a SpaceX rocketlaunched earlier this month made a hole in the Earth's ionosphere.

The ionosphere is where Earth's atmosphere meets space and stretches roughly 50 to 400 miles above Earth's surface, NASA says.

Jeff Baumgardner, a senior research scientist from Boston University, made the comments to Spaceweather. Ionospheric holes have become more common as record numbers of rockets are launched, the report said.

However, the atmospheric holes are transitory in nature because reionization occurs as the sun rises and this process eliminates any deleterious effects on the Earth's surface.