NOAA Says Evidence of Rare Metals in Stratosphere Likely from Rocket Launches Written 23 October 2023

SpaceX CRS-22 Liftoff-1200

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 3, 2021 | Credit: NASA

The Washington Post reports NOAA researchers collected and analyzed particles in the stratosphere that indicates the presence of rare elemental metals niobium and hafnium, which “are common in spacecraft manufacturing and can be found in semiconductors, rocket chambers and other applications.” The discovery “sheds light on the environmental aftermath of a growing number of rockets, satellites and other human-made spacecraft that give off metal vapors as they reenter the atmosphere.” The researchers also “identified aluminum, lithium, copper and lead in the stratosphere – all of which are linked to alloys used by the aerospace industry.” It is still unclear “how the existence of these rare metals and other elements in the stratosphere might influence the climate.”
Full Story (Washington Post – Subscription Publication)