A former NASA physicist has warned that mega-satellite networks like Elon Musk's Starlink could disrupt the Earth's magnetosphere and expose all of humanity to deadly cosmic rays.

Dr. Sierra Solter-Hunt claims that satellites are burning up the Earth's atmosphere with more than 1.3 tons of satellite debris every hour, creating a layer of metal "conductive particles" in orbit.

According to the astronomers' latest estimate this March, there are currently 5,504 Starlink satellites in orbit, of which 5,442 are operational. But tens of thousands more are planned for launch.

Earth could suffer the fate of Mars

At the end of their life cycles, particles from these moons could "disrupt or trap the magnetic field" of Earth's atmosphere, said physicist Solter-Hunt, a former NASA employee.

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Although he said this was an "extreme case", such a layer of charged metal dust could lead to "atmospheric erosion" similar to the fates of Mars and Mercury.