CO2 risks space operations

2012-11-12 07:30
A build-up of carbon dioxide in the upper levels of Earth's atmosphere risks causing a faster accumulation of man-made space junk. (Nasa, AP)

A build-up of carbon dioxide in the upper levels of Earth's atmosphere risks causing a faster accumulation of man-made space junk. (Nasa, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Paris - A build-up of carbon dioxide in the upper levels of Earth's atmosphere risks causing a faster accumulation of man-made space junk and resulting in more collisions, scientists said on Sunday.

While it causes warming on Earth, CO2 conversely cools down the atmosphere and contracts its outermost layer, the thermosphere, where many satellites including the International Space Station (ISS) operate, said a study published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

A contracted thermosphere, in turn, reduces atmospheric "drag" on satellites - a similar force to that experienced when holding one's hand out the window of a moving car.

This "drag" is what causes satellite orbits to change, drawing them closer to Earth, which means that orbiters like the ISS have to boost themselves back on course with on-board engines.

"The observed CO2 increase is expected to gradually result in a cooler, more contracted upper atmosphere and a consequent reduction in the atmospheric drag experienced by satellites," said a statement from the Naval Research Laboratory, which took part in the study.

Earth risk


Commenting on the paper, space expert Hugh Lewis said a cooler troposphere will extend the lifetime of space junk - staying farther out for longer instead of burning up in the lower layers of the atmosphere, closer to Earth.

"Consequently, space junk will accumulate at a faster rate and we will see more collisions between space objects as a result," he said.

"We will also see many more 'near-misses' and these have an important effect on spacecraft operators."

Lewis said there would be no increased risk for us on Earth as the rate at which satellites re-enter would be reduced.

"However, we would see some effects on services provided from space if an important satellite was destroyed by a collision...," he said.

On the positive side, satellites would no longer need to boost themselves back into orbit quite as often, meaning they can carry less fuel.
- SAPA

Read more on:    space  |  climate change
NEXT ON NEWS24X

SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
5 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Tuesday Paarden Eiland - 07:47 AM
    Road name: Marine Drive Southbound
    DELAYS between Broad Road and the N1 Highway Interchange
  • Tuesday Belhar - 07:46 AM
    Road name: Stellenbosch Arterial Road Westbound
    ACCIDENT at Symphony Way - HEAVY DELAYS from the R300 Highway
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

2 TV Series for R250

Get 2 TV Series box sets for R250 and save up to R148! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on beauty & fragrances

Save up to 30% off beauty and fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 50% off hair care products!

Save up to 50% on professional hair care products at kalahari.com. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off academic books

Score a mind blowing 30% off academic books! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing deals on electronics!

Save up to 35% on electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Apple iPad 3 Black 64GB 9.7" Tablet With WiFi & 4G

Retina Display Finally the incredible Retina display technology from the iPhone...

From R7999.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Something may come up to alert you of your security needs. It may be that you need to create a better structure for your finances...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.