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According to a research, space tourism by businesses like SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin might undermine efforts to rebuild the ozone layer.

According to scientists, the space tourism of Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos could reverse the work achieved to heal the ozone layer.

In the 1980s, the Montreal Protocol prohibited the use of chemicals that depleted the ozone layer, and since then, the protective barrier has begun to recover. However, the services promoted by Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos may undermine the advancement.

New research has investigated the effect of spacecraft departing and returning to Earth on the upper atmosphere.

According to a research, space tourism by businesses like spacex, virgin galactic, and blue origin might undermine efforts to rebuild the ozone layer.

According to a joint study by the University College London, the University of Cambridge, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the soot emitted by spacecraft damages the protective ozone layer surrounding the planet and holds heat 500 times faster than other soot sources.

Dr. Eloise Marais of UCL, who co-authored the study, stated that comparing spacecraft emissions to those of aircraft and terrestrial sources was “incorrect.”

Blue Origin, the space transportation company created by Mr. Bezos, argues that its New Shepard launch vehicle’s BE-3 PM engine is “fueled by extremely efficient and pure liquid oxygen and hydrogen.”

“The only byproduct of the New Shepard’s engine during flight is water vapor, with no carbon emissions”.

While the university researchers admitted that the current damage to the ozone layer is minimal, they recommended regulating the expanding sector of space tourism to prevent future issues.

Describe the ozone layer.

The ozone layer is a portion of the atmosphere composed of O3 oxygen molecules, as opposed to the more prevalent O2 oxygen molecules.

It shields the Earth’s surface from the massive quantities of ultraviolet light emitted by the Sun, which, if allowed to pass through, would cause temperatures to rise.

After observing the depletion of the layer in the 1970s, scientists began a push for rule modifications.

It was determined that particular chemicals were responsible for the damage, and in 1987 the Montreal Protocol was enacted to ban the compounds; it is the only United Nations convention that has been accepted by all 198 member states.

The ozone layer has since begun to be repaired, albeit primarily at greater altitudes.

The harm caused by space travel

The researchers of space travel analyzed data from 103 rocket launches in 2019, as well as spacecraft flights by Mr. Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Mr. Musk’s SpaceX, and Mr. Bezos’ Blue Origin.

They discovered that the warming caused by soot more than doubled after only three years of extra emissions from space tourism, which included the addition of rubber to the fuel.

The fact that the soot is ejected in the high atmosphere exacerbates the harm, as the particles are 500 times more effective than other soot at holding heat.

The success of the Montreal Protocol would be jeopardized by the implementation of weekly space tourism, according to the findings.

The principal author of the study, Dr. Robert Ryan of UCL, stated, “The top stratosphere is the only section of the atmosphere showing robust ozone recovery post-Montreal Protocol, and this is precisely where rocket emissions would have the greatest influence.

We did not anticipate ozone fluctuations of this scale, which jeopardize the recovery of ozone.

The results were published in the journal Earth’s Future.


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