SpaceX punched a hole in the ionosphere

On July 19th, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket, treating sky watchers in southern California and Arizona to a stunning spectacle. Photographer Jeremy Perez, located north of Flagstaff, captured an extra special sight. After the rocket passed overhead, a red fluorescent glow spread across the Milky Way, visible for almost 20 minutes. This glow is a result of the rocket puncturing the ionosphere, a phenomenon that has been observed before. Rocket engines release water and carbon dioxide into the ionosphere, causing a recombination process that produces a red glow. These “punch holes” in the ionosphere are becoming more common with the increasing number of SpaceX launches.

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