SpaceX rocket launches are creating temporary holes in Earth's upper atmosphere, leading to red aurora-like formations in the sky.
These phenomena are different from typical rocket streaks, appearing as red, spherical shapes visible for up to 10 minutes.
They're caused by SpaceX rockets burning engines in the ionosphere, leaving behind distinctive red balls as they descend.
McDonald Observatory scientists observed 2 to 5 of these occurrences monthly, starting around February 2023.
The red balls result from SpaceX rocket stages de-orbiting and burning engines, releasing significant exhaust gases near the ionosphere's edge.
Concerns arise regarding increased SpaceX launches potentially amplifying these red glows, impacting astronomical observations.
SpaceX's response to these concerns remains undisclosed.
Prior studies noted rocket launches disrupting the ionosphere, affecting radio communications by altering charged particle formation.
Fast-moving rockets expelling water and carbon dioxide can decrease the ionosphere's formation process by a considerable margin.
These holes in the ionosphere excite gas molecules, generating red aurora-like streaks caused by oxygen ions reacting with rocket exhaust electrons. Previous incidents include SpaceX and US Space Force launches resulting in red skies over Arizona and California.