Why it’s time to study how rocket emissions change the atmosphere

Every time a rocket launches, it produces a plume of exhaust in its wake that leaves a mark on the environment. These plumes are filled with materials that can collect in the air over time, potentially altering the atmosphere in dangerous ways. It’s a phenomenon that’s not well-understood, and some scientists say we need to start studying these emissions now before the number of rocket launches increases significantly.

It’s not the gas in these plumes that’s most concerning. Some rockets do produce heat-trapping greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide, but those emissions are negligible, according to experts. “The rocket business could grow by a factor of 1,000 and the carbon dioxide and water vapor emissions would still be small compared…

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