Space is getting closer: a new study says it is 12 miles closer to Earth than I thought

The edge of space: a new study, could be only 50 miles above the Earth, just where the blue turns black in this picture? Photo documentation of ground views (001-014, 019, 028-037), of an illuminated ground extremity (015-018) and of ground views with Endeavor tail in the center of the shot (020-027).

The edge of the space is actually 12 miles (20 kilometers) closer than previously thought, according to a new controversial study.

Known as the Karman Line, it is widely accepted that it is 100 km (62 miles) above the surface of the Earth.

After studying the satellites on Earth, the new study states that this is wrong, and the space is a little closer than we thought.

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The edge of space: a new study, could be only 50 miles above the Earth, just where the blue turns black in this picture? Photo documentation of ground views (001-014, 019, 028-037), of an illuminated ground extremity (015-018) and of ground views with Endeavor tail in the center of the shot (020-027).

The edge of space: a new study, could be only 50 miles above the Earth, just where the blue turns black in this photo. Photo documentation of ground views (001-014, 019, 028-037), of an illuminated ground extremity (015-018) and of ground views with Endeavor tail in the center of the shot (020-027).

HOW IS THE ATMOSPHERE OF THE EARTH DIVIDED?

The atmosphere of the Earth is divided into five main layers: the exosphere, the thermosphere, the mesosphere, the stratosphere and the troposphere.

The atmosphere is diluted in each upper layer until the gases dissipate in space.

There is no clear boundary between atmosphere and space, but an imaginary line about 100 miles (62 miles) from the surface, called the Karman line, is where scientists say the atmosphere meets outer space.

Astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell says the limit should move.

"In this paper I review the proposed definitions of the boundary between Earth's atmosphere and outer space, considering the orbital and suborbital trajectories used by spacecraft," he wrote in the October issue of the journal Acta Astronautica.

"In particular, I investigate the inner edge of outer space from historical, physical and technological points of view and propose 80 km as a more appropriate limit than the currently popular Von Kármán 100 km line."

The debate over the true edge of space has been unleashed for decades.

"The argument about where the atmosphere ends and where the space begins is before the launch of the first Sputnik," McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, wrote in the newspaper.

He says that the Karman line that many scientists accept today is based on decades of misinterpreted information.

McDowell analyzed the orbital routes of some 43,000 satellites of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which monitors the aerospace sector in the United States and Canada.

Upon observing how they reentered the atmosphere at the end of their missions, he found two that seemed to show that space was closer.

Each of them successfully completed at least two full rotations around the Earth at altitudes less than 62 miles (100 km).

The debate over the true edge of space has been unleashed for decades. This image from the video provided by SpaceX shows the company's spacesuit in Elon Musk's red Tesla, which was launched into space during the first test flight of the Falcon Heavy rocket.

The debate over the true edge of space has been unleashed for decades. This image from the video provided by SpaceX shows the company's spacesuit in Elon Musk's red Tesla, which was launched into space during the first test flight of the Falcon Heavy rocket.

The debate over the true edge of space has been unleashed for decades. This image from the video provided by SpaceX shows the company's spacesuit in Elon Musk's red Tesla, which was launched into space during the first test flight of the Falcon Heavy rocket.

The Soviet satellite Elektron-4, for example, circled the planet 10 times at about 52 miles (85 km) before falling into the atmosphere and burning in 1997.

When a ship fell below the 50-mile (80 km) mark, it could never be saved, he concluded, making it the new edge of space.

In the 1950s, pilots of the United States Air Force were awarded a special set of "astronaut wings". to fly their planes over 50 miles, which is considered the outermost edge of the atmosphere.

"It is noteworthy that meteors (which travel much faster) generally disintegrate in the altitude range of 70 to 100 km (43 miles to 62 miles), which increases the evidence that this is the region where the atmosphere it becomes important, "McDowell wrote.

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