We’ve already managed to mess up Earth with everything from overfishing landfills to nuclear fallout, so it shouldn’t come as a shock that human activity is finally manifesting itself in space. The unexpected of our influence beyond the atmosphere is that it is (for once) positive.
Something weird had pushed further and further away the dangerous radiation belts surrounding the Earth, also known as the Van Allen Belts. For years scientists have been puzzled. It turns out that the radio communication signals in what is called the VLF (very low frequency) interval had created a bubble protect us from harmful radiation. It helps since we have already destroyed the ozone layer. Scientists are now wondering if an entire geological epoch should be named for the effects of human activity, because our species has managed to impact space.
You heard that right. There are really scientists who want to end the Holocene Period, which lasted over 11,700 years, and call it the Anthropocene because much of our environment on – and now off – Earth has been influenced by the activities of Homo sapiens.
“[Some] anthropogenic impacts on the space environment include experiments with the release of chemicals, the heating of high frequency waves of the ionosphere and the interaction of VLF waves with radiation belts ”, says TI Gombosi, who led a study published in Space science journals.
In an unlikely event of human-generated emissions doing anything other than destroying everything, the man-made bubble surrounding Earth has pushed the Van Allen Belts so far that even the Inner Belt is further than it has been. never been. The VLF signals that make up the bubble are even weaker than the AM / FM radio signals. They are transmitted through communication with satellites, processes that protect satellites from harmful Van Allen radiation, and long-distance communications, among other scientific and technical uses.
Van Allen belts were first discovered by an instrument aboard Explorer 1, the first NASA satellite ever launched into space. Billions upon billions of high energy solar particles form the outer belt. These particles only escape the Sun to be trapped by our planet’s magnetic field, and if you know the reason you should wear SPF every day, you probably know what solar radiation can do, especially when the ozone layer has been depleted by pollutants such as aerosols. The inner belt was formed by the interactions between our atmosphere and the types of cosmic rays from which the next generation space suits are designed to protect astronauts.
“The anthropogenic effects on the space environment began at the end of the 19th century and reached their peak in the 1960s when the United States and the Soviet Union carried out nuclear explosions at high altitude. ” Gombosi said. “These explosions created man-made radiation belts near Earth which caused extensive damage to several satellites.”
NASA scientists have now proven VLFs can push certain particles into space. As long as they are in the right conditions, VLFs are able to alter the properties of the killer radiation around us, which can also be a relief for astronauts aboard or bound for the ISS. The bubble compensates for at least some of the human destruction with which our planet and its surroundings are loaded. We were a little too happy with nuclear bombs over the past century, especially in the second half. The other detrimental effect of the monster mushroom clouds, besides cancer and mutations that would never happen otherwise, were the man-made radiation belts, as if Van Allen’s belts weren’t enough. VLFs could gradually reverse the trend.
Most of us on dry land don’t even realize that VLFs are here. No one knew either where they were going, or even that they had traveled beyond Earth, until scientists discovered the bubble they now believe impenetrable.
It still doesn’t mean you should skip the SPF, but it could restore your faith in humanity, if only for a fraction of a second.