A rocket launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX hits a temporary hole in the ionosphere…
Digital Desk: A rocket launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX has punched a temporary hole in the ionosphere surrounding our planet, according to a report on spaceweather.com. A Falcon 9 rocket launched from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California on July 19. It is a reusable, two-stage rocket for the reliable and safe delivery of people and payloads into Earth orbit and beyond, according to the company’s website. SpaceX also claimed it was the world’s first orbital-class reusable rocket. Falcon 9 completed 240 launches and 198 landings.
Photos from the July 19 launch revealed a faint red glow that was investigated by Boston University astronaut Jeff Baumgardner. After reviewing the launch footage, he said the red glow indicated a hole in the ionosphere.
“It’s a well-studied phenomenon when rockets burn their engines 200 to 300 kilometers above the Earth’s surface,” Bumgardner told spaceweather.com.
“I checked the launch video from July 19. It shows the second stage engine burning at an altitude of 286 km, near the F-region peak at that time. So, it is plausible that an ionospheric ‘hole’ was created,” he added.
The ionosphere is at the edge of space and is filled with charged particles called ions. According to NASA, geomagnetic storms cause aurora, interacting with solar plasma ions to create the amazing colors seen in the sky.
The ionosphere is essential because it reflects and modulates radio waves used for communication and navigation. A hole in the ionosphere can affect GPS systems, causing them to lose a few feet of accuracy. However, according to Newsweek, this was not very important at this time.
With increasingly powerful rockets, the impact of launches on the ionosphere will grow in the future and have even more serious consequences for GPS.
“Humans are entering an era where rocket launches are becoming more common and frequent because of the low cost of reusable rockets. At the same time, mankind is creating more powerful rockets to transport cargo to distant worlds. These two factors will gradually affect the middle and upper atmosphere more and should be noted,” said Charles CH Lin of Taiwan.
A similar incident has happened earlier with the same rocket. According to Science Times, on August 24, 2017, Falcon 9 launched from Vanderburgh Space Force Station with the Formosat-5 payload.
Due to its low weight, the rocket traveled along a vertical path instead of parallel to the Earth’s surface, causing shock waves. As a result, it blew a hole in the plasma of the ionosphere.
The same incident occurred again on June 19, 2022, when the Falcon 9 rocket launched, the outlet said.