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The hazards of decaying space junk

Image courtesy of Sierra Solter

The number of satellites in earth’s orbit has more than doubled since 2020. And all of these satellites will one day, if they haven’t already, return to earth, disintegrating in the atmosphere, leaving a layer of conductive, electrically charged particles around the planet. This could have dangerous effects on the Earth's ionosphere, and life as we know it.

Sierra Solter, a plasma physicist concerned about the intersections of climate, technology, and heliophysics, talks about the impact of this orbital junk on the earth’s ionosphere.