An army of satellites against the Earth’s protective shield: the image confirms it

Ozone endangered by satellites in the atmosphere: how many are there. An army of satellites against the Earth's protective shield: the image confirms it.

First of all, we should start from the importance of ozone. Why should we be concerned about a thinning or tearing of the "chemical shield" that protects the Earth? O₃ is important because it does not allow ultraviolet rays, which have a high carcinogenic power, to pass. Unfortunately, it has been hypothesized that satellites could work in the opposite direction, i.e. damaging it, in concert with other compounds due to human action, already responsible for the thinning of the layer of gas at the North and South Poles.

How many satellites are in the atmosphere: a surprising glance

First of all, one could think that satellites in the atmosphere are few. In fact, we only hear about them in exceptional cases (for example as happened with the sustainable satellite made of plywood). Things change if you pay attention to this visualization by LeoLabs, which reconstructs in real time the position of each satellite in low Earth orbit.

It seems incredible, but we are faced with an unsuspected "assemblage": the satellites displayed in this Google Earth of space are no less than 17131. 

Why all these satellites should worry us

Awonder may give way to concern for some scientists. "With the first generation of Starlink (the artificial satellite constellation built by SpaceX, ed.) - said Aaron Boley, author of a study on how satellites interact with the ozone layer - we can expect about 2 tons of dead satellites to re-enter Earth's atmosphere every day. These satellites are mostly aluminum, which meteoroids only contain in a very small amount, about 1 percent."

Here's the thing, aluminum is key because it burns into reflective aluminum oxide, or alumina, which could damage and even create a new hole in the ozone layer. More specifically, when aluminum burns, it can chemically react with ozone in the air and form aluminum oxide, which depletes the ozone in the atmosphere. The atmosphere can certainly absorb a small amount of these chemicals, with no negative effects, but with tens of thousands of satellites in play, the quantities could have more impactful consequences.

And Still speaking of satellites, in Lecco there are those who have immortalized the artificial constellation with a high-impact photo, in which the devices are indistinguishable from real stars.

Giuseppe Giordano