our protection is being broken, the sky is in danger
July 29, 2022: Never before have so many rockets been launched. In 2021, the space agencies of Earth broke the all-time record for global rocket launches with 133, and in 2022 it looks like the record will be broken again with more than 150. China and SpaceX are big contributors to this increase.
High above Earth, something else is increasing: Noctilucent clouds (NLCs). It’s no coincidence. A new paper just published in the AGU journal for Earth and Space Science confirms that “space traffic has a strong influence on the interannual variability of these bright mesospheric clouds.”
Noctilucent clouds are a natural phenomenon. During summer months, wisps of water vapor rise up to the mesosphere, 83 km high, and crystalize around specks of disintegrated meteoroids. Sky watchers at northern latitudes can easily see the clouds, which are filled with fine ripples and shine at night with an electric blue color.
Rocket launches are boosting NLCs. A team of researchers led by
Michael Stevens of the Naval Research Lab in Washington, DC, looked at
data from NASA’s AIM spacecraft, which was launched in 2007 to study
noctilucent clouds. They found a strong correlation between the number
of rockets launched each July and the abundance of clouds in the