Satellite Internet Boom Could Disrupt Earth's Magnetic Field, Warns Physicist

The problem is that space, contrary to popular belief, isn't really a giant, self-cleaning void.

Satellite Internet Boom Could Disrupt Earth's Magnetic Field, Warns Physicist

There are currently nearly 10,000 active satellites.

Plasma physicist Sierra Solter warns that the growing number of satellites burning up in Earth's atmosphere could disrupt the planet's magnetic field, according to The Guardian.

Ms Solter, who has been studying the issue for over a year, is concerned about the dust and ash created by burning satellites accumulating in the ionosphere and magnetosphere. These conductive materials could create charging effects and act as a magnetic shield, potentially weakening or deflecting Earth's magnetic field.

"We could get to 100,000 satellites in 10 to 15 years," Dr Jonathan McDowell, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, said. Those satellites power hyper-connected internet services and may turn some billionaires into trillionaires-at the cost of shrouding the planet with toxic trash.

The magnetic field protects Earth from harmful solar radiation and is crucial for maintaining the atmosphere. Ms Solter points out that the current amount of trash in the ionosphere already shows an apparent human-made electrostatic signature.

With companies planning to launch tens of thousands of satellites in the coming decades, Ms Solter argues that more research is needed to understand the potential impact on the magnetosphere. She believes space companies should be required to study the environmental impact of their satellites before launching them.

Ms Solter is urging a reevaluation of satellite internet until the potential risks are better understood.

"Space companies need to stop launching satellites if they can't provide studies that show that their pollution will not harm the stratosphere and magnetosphere. Until this pollution is studied further, we should all reconsider satellite internet," she said.