A unique rocket launch has created a gaping wound in Earth’s atmosphere. On September 14, the company Firefly Aerospace, under contract with the American Space Force, launched an Alpha rocket in a record time of 27 hours after receiving the green light. The speed of this launch not only amazed the space exploration community, but it also created an intriguing phenomenon: a hole in the ionosphere of the Earth.
The separation of the first and second stages of Firefly Aerospace’s Alpha rocket following the September 14 launch. The fuel burned during this part of the rocket’s flight could have created a hole in the ionosphere.
Credit: Carol Cohn
As its name suggests, the ionosphere is a layer of the Earth’s atmosphere where gases are partially ionized, located between approximately 60 and 1000 km above the surface (A surface generally refers to the surface layer of an object . The term a…) of the Earth. After the plume of smoke created by the rocket dissipated, a reddish glow remained in the sky. This phenomenon is a telltale sign of the creation of a hole in this atmospheric layer.
This is not the first time that an “ionospheric hole” has been observed this year. In July, the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket created a gigantic blood-red spot above Arizona. These holes are formed when the fuel from the second stage of the rocket burns in the middle part of the ionosphere. Ionized oxygen molecules recombine into normal oxygen molecules, emitting energy. which allows you to carry out work, make…) in the form of light (Light is all the electromagnetic waves visible to the eye…).
According to experts, these ionospheric holes do not pose a threat to Earth’s inhabitants. They close naturally within a few hours when the recombined gases are ionized again.
The Alpha rocket lifts off from Vandenberg Space Force Base on September 14.
Credit: Firefly Aerospace
Lt. Col. MacKenzie Birchenough, an officer with the Space Force’s Space Systems Command, said the mission’s goal was to “demonstrate the United States’ ability to quickly place an asset into orbit.” The Alpha rocket carried the Space Force’s Victus Nox satellite, intended for a “space domain awareness” mission. This satellite will help the Space Force monitor the orbital environment. The launch was carried out from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 10:28 p.m. local time.
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