The increase in carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere, an existing problem worsens: space waste. The increase in emissions reduces the density of the upper atmosphere and causes wreckage remain in orbit.
What happens naturally is that the Earth's atmosphere pulls orbiting debris down and incinerates it. The problem has been largely neglected, according to a study presented in April at European Space Debris Conference.
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If the problem persists, future generations will suffer, because access to space will be more difficult, or even impossible. According to the newspaper The New York Times (NYT), more than 2,5 objects over 10 centimeters orbit the Land at an altitude of less than 400 kilometers. In the worst case scenario, the amount of space junk in orbit can increase 50-fold by the year 2100.
“The number surprised us. There is a genuine reason for alarm, ”said Hugh Lewis, an expert on space debris from the University of Southampton, England, and co-author of the study, which is under review, in an interview with the NYT.
Objects below 480 kilometers of altitude fall naturally in the thickest low atmosphere and burn in less than 10 years. In the same region, carbon dioxide molecules can release infrared radiation after absorbing it from the Salt, captured by the atmosphere as heat. Only, when the atmosphere is rarer, the opposite happens.
“There is nothing to recapture that energy. So, it gets lost in space, ”explained Matthew Brown, also from the University of Southampton and lead author of the study. According to the researcher and his team, the atmosphere up to 400 kilometers it lost 21% of density because of the increase in the levels of carbon dioxide. The percentage can reach 80% by 2.100 if the levels are doubled.
Even in the least bad scenario, with carbon dioxide levels stabilized or even reversed, the amount of space debris must double. The probability calculated by Matthew Brown is a 10 to 20-fold increase.
The effects of a less dense high atmosphere are not yet fully understood and experts want to do more research to understand how big the problem is, or how much worse it can get.
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