Starlink and similar satellites could damage the Earth’s protective ozone layer, according to new research from the University of Southern California, as The Independent reports.

At the end of their service life, satellites descend from orbit and burn in the upper atmosphere. The combustion of a small satellite produces about 30 kg of aluminum oxides.

According to the researchers, in 2022 alone, the fall of satellites could lead to the formation of about 17 tons of tiny aluminum oxide particles.

SpaceX has already launched more than 6,000 satellites, and the number continues to grow, with each new model becoming heavier.

Starlink

Aluminum oxides deplete the ozone layer. They can remain in the atmosphere and destroy the ozone layer for decades, researchers warn.

Scientists estimate that when all the planned satellite constellations enter orbit, more than 350 tons of aluminum oxides will be released annually. This is almost 650% higher than natural atmospheric levels.

SpaceX alone is authorized to launch another 12,000 Starlink satellites, while Amazon and other tech giants also plan to launch thousands of satellites in the coming years. In addition, China and the EU are going to build their own constellations of satellites.

Researchers urge not to ignore the problem and focus on solving it now.

“As reentry rates increase, it is crucial to further explore the concerns highlighted in this study,” researchers say.