Research Professor Delores Knipp is interviewed in a new article in the MIT Technology Review about the recent failure of up to 40 satellites launched by SpaceX.
The satellites launched with no problems, but trouble struck the following day. The issue? A geomagnetic storm.
Knipp is an expect in space weather and its impacts on our planet.
The day after the launch, however, disaster struck. An eruption of plasma from the sun sent charged particles streaming into Earth’s atmosphere, sending the planet’s magnetic field haywire and increasing the density of its atmosphere. That increase in density meant there were more particles to push against satellites in Earth’s orbit. This phenomenon, known as atmospheric drag, can pull them out of their orbital paths.