Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rising carbon dioxide levels increase risks to satellites

19.04.2005


Climate change is widely attributed to the build-up of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, in the Earth’s atmosphere. However, scientists from the School of Engineering Sciences at the University of Southampton have shown that the impact of carbon dioxide is being felt in space too.

Dr Hugh Lewis from the School will present a paper to the Fourth European Conference on Space Debris at the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Germany this week indicating that increasing levels of CO2 are causing the amount of space debris orbiting the Earth to increase faster than previously thought.

Whilst CO2 is causing a global rise in temperature at the Earth’s surface, it has the opposite effect in the upper part of the atmosphere known as the thermosphere. Here, in a region of space that contains the International Space Station and many other satellites, the temperature and the atmospheric density are falling rapidly.



Evidence from the Naval Research Laboratory in the USA suggests that the atmospheric density at these heights could be halved in the next 100 years. At first glance, this is good news for satellite operators: it will take longer for their satellites to re-enter the atmosphere. However, the research conducted at the University of Southampton in collaboration with QinetiQ shows that in the later half of this century satellites would be at greater risk from collisions with orbiting debris.

Collisions between objects orbiting the Earth can release as much energy as ten sticks of dynamite because of the enormous speeds involved, around ten kilometres per second. These events can subsequently produce hundreds of thousands of objects larger than 1 cm – each one a collision risk to satellites and used rocket stages.

According to the research team’s initial predictions a process known as ‘collision cascading’ – where the number of collisions in orbit increases exponentially – could occur much more quickly in the region of space between 200 km and 2,000 km above the Earth in response to rising CO2 levels. Simulations of a ‘business as usual’ scenario, where satellites are launched and destroyed at the rate they are now, show a 17 per cent increase in the number of collisions and a 30 per cent increase in the number of objects larger than 1 cm by the end of the 21st century.

Dr Lewis stresses that steps are already being taken to diminish the threat posed by orbiting debris. The Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC), an international governmental forum that coordinates activities related to the issues of debris in space, has produced a set of guidelines that identify mitigation options. Whilst Dr Lewis’ research has implications for these guidelines, he believes that they will remain effective measures: ‘We are only now beginning to understand the impact that polluting the atmosphere is having on space, but our knowledge of the problems posed by space debris is reliable,’ he commented.

The research was undertaken by Dr Lewis, with Dr Graham Swinerd and Charlotte Ellis of the School of Engineering Sciences, and Dr Clare Martin of QinetiQ.

Sarah Watts | alfa
Further information:
http://www.soton.ac.uk/Space/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

nachricht World Water Day 2017: It doesn’t Always Have to Be Drinking Water – Using Wastewater as a Resource
17.03.2017 | ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>