The American Institute of Physics reports through Phys.Org: In “Liquid Physics,” researchers from the University of Nicosia in Cyprus assessed the potential impact of a rocket launch on air pollution by studying heat and mass transfer and the rapid mixing of combustion by-products at altitudes up to 67 kilometers into the atmosphere. The team simulated exhaust and plume that developed at several altitudes along the typical trajectory of a standard modern rocket. They did this as a prototype two-stage rocket to transport people and payloads into Earth orbit and beyond.

The researchers found that the production of thermal oxides of nitrogen (NOx), which are components of exhaust gases, can remain high to altitudes with atmospheric ambient pressures above or even slightly below nozzle outlet pressures, i.e. below altitudes of about 10 km. . At the same time, the mass of carbon dioxide emitted when a rocket rises 1 kilometer into the mesosphere is equivalent to the mass contained in 26 cubic kilometers of atmospheric air at the same altitude. They found that the impact on the atmosphere locally and for a moment in the mesosphere could be significant. While air currents will gradually carry and mix exhaust CO2 throughout the atmosphere, eventually returning CO2 to its natural levels, the time scale during which this occurs is unclear.

Scientists believe that a number of rocket launches may still exist, above which mesospheric carbon dioxide may accumulate over time, thus increasing natural levels and affecting our climate. Their results suggest that at worst, enough NOx can be produced in the time it will take a rocket to reach an altitude of 10 kilometers to pollute more than 2 cubic kilometers of atmospheric air with a NOx concentration that, according to the World Health Organization , would be at a level dangerous to human health.

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