Elon Musk owned SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was launched in August, 2017. According to the report, the researchers have determined that the SpaceX ‘s Formosat-5 mission created a gigantic circular shock wave, carving a nearly 900-km-wide hole into the plasma of the Earth’s ionosphere.
SpaceX rocket created a gigantic hole in the ionosphere.
How did Falcon 9’s light payload contributed to this 900 KM hole
Generally the medium payload rockets used by any Space agency follow a curved trajectory in proceeding vertical distance. This all is done to reduce gravity drag and high amount of stress acting on the rocket’s body. But things were different with the SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. Unlike other rockets Falcon 9 maintained a nearly vertical trajectory, and this was done because SpaceX’s Formosat-5 weighed just 475Kg, the payload that Falcon 9 was carrying was light, so, according to a simple science formula, Flacon 9 had to force a lower gravitational force, and hence followed a vertical trajectory. And in doing this vertical trajectory Falcon’s booster and second stage created an energetic shock waves in the plasma of ionosphere and created a gigantic hole.
This phenomenon is similar to a localized magnetic storm, lasted for up to 3 hours and was produced because of the Falcon 9’s light payload.
What problems the hole can create?
Disruptions in GPS Navigation
According to the lead author of this study, Charles C.H. Lin of the National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan, the hole in ionosphere can skew Global Positioning System (GPS). He said the Falcon-9 induced error for GPS navigation devices ‘was not too significant’.
He also added, “without considering the rocket launch effects, there are errors from ionosphere, troposphere and other factors that will produce up to 20-meter errors or more”
“Humans are entering an era that rocket launches are becoming usual. Meanwhile, humans are developing more powerful rockets to send cargoes to other planets. These two factors will gradually affect the middle and upper atmosphere more,” quipped Charles Lin.
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