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Scientists worried as Elon Musk's Space X to burn 100 satellites in Earth's atmosphere

Scientists worried as Elon Musk's Space X to burn 100 satellites in Earth's atmosphere

It's certainly one way to get rid of your space junk

Eccentric billionaire Elon Musk's SpaceX has got scientists worried after one of his businesses revealed plans to let a staggering 100 of its satellites burn to a crisp in Earth's atmosphere.

When he's not chilling out with Joe Rogan, South African businessman Musk - who is worth a colossal $210 billion (£165 billion) - is known for running a number of notable enterprises including Tesla, OpenAI, and X (formerly known as Twitter).

And owned by SpaceX is firm Starlink, a satellite internet service providing internet coverage to more than 70 countries.

There have been times where you can actually see the satellites as they pass over the UK.

But Musk's SpaceX has taken a move with its satellites that's causing concern among those in the scientific community.

The company is set to get rid of 100 of its Starlink satellites due to a flaw in their design.

SpaceX said: "These satellites are currently manoeuvrable and serving users effectively, but the Starlink team identified a common issue in this small population of satellites that could increase the probability of failure in the future."

The issue itself hasn't been made public but the conversation of exactly how you dispose of items floating around Earth has been discussed in depth.

SpaceX has said it will 'de-orbit' the satellites. Basically, they'll burn up in to nothing by entering Earth's atmosphere.

Elon Musk.
Omar Marques/Getty Images

But it's a move that atmospheric scientists are increasingly concerned over due to worries of a connection to climate change back on Earth itself.

Research published in the National Library of Medicine last October found aluminium and other metal satellite particles in the Earth's stratosphere following their 'burn-up' during re-entry.

Burning the waste in the atmosphere instead of pushing them deeper in to space has scientists worried, with ozone loss known to be caused by reactions human-made industrial gases turning benign chemicals into more active forms that can rapidly destroy ozone.

Dan Cziczo, an atmospheric scientist at Purdue University, told Science Alert that the key issue is whether the particles left in the atmosphere from burn-up will increase the destruction of the ozone layer through their atmospheric fly-tipping of metallic particles.

Aaron Boley, an associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of British Columbia in Canada, told "We have 54 tonnes (60 tons) of meteoroid material coming in every day.

"With the first generation of Starlink, we can expect about two tonnes (2.2 tons) of dead satellites reentering Earth's atmosphere daily.

SpaceX satellites for its Starlink service.

"But meteoroids are mostly rock, which is made of oxygen, magnesium and silicon. These satellites are mostly aluminium, which the meteoroids contain only in a very small amount, about one per cent."

He added: "We know that alumina does deplete ozone just from rocket launches themselves because a lot of solid-fuel rockets use, or have, alumina as a byproduct.

"That creates these little temporary holes in the stratospheric ozone layer. That's one of the biggest concerns about compositional changes to the atmosphere that spaceflight can cause."

SpaceX is set to de-orbit its 100 satellites within the next six months. Currently, the company has 5,438 satellites dotted around the earth.

LADbible has contacted SpaceX for comment.

Featured Image Credit: Omar Marques/Getty Images/Getty Stock Images

Topics: Elon Musk, Space, Science, Environment, World News, SpaceX, Technology, Business