Astronomers grapple with the effects of giant satellite constellations – tech2.org

Astronomers grapple with the effects of giant satellite constellations


The vast constellations of satellites can have an impact on astronomy, and astronomers are beginning to notice what this industrialization of space might mean for the future of their region.

big picture: Companies such as SpaceX and Amazon have plans to launch thousands of Internet-beaming satellites in the coming years.

what does it stand for: Satellites can disrupt images taken by powerful telescopes on Earth. In particular, these spacecraft can disrupt scientists’ ability to find dangerous asteroids and distant objects of interest.

  • Now scientists suggest that these satellites should be in relatively low orbits as this would keep them out of the field of view for large telescopes at night.
  • The concern with the scientific community is not just to focus on viewing satellites in telescope fields. Radio astronomers may also face interference from these satellites because they transmit overnight.

Intrigue: Since 2018, SpaceX has launched more than 900 Starlink satellites as part of its planetarium, and other companies are racing to catch up. This accelerated motion does not spare much time for astronomers to advocate their requirements.

  • “We need more ground rules in a largely ‘Wild West’ environment,” Jeff Hall of the Lowell Observatory said during the American Astronomical Society meeting last week.

What to see: Astronomers are collaborating with space companies to ensure that any interference from their satellites is kept to a minimum.

  • The National Science Foundation and the American Astronomical Society have prepared a joint report discussing the impact these satellites have on astronomy, and the International Astronomical Union also has a report on the subject.
  • SpaceX is working on reducing the visibility of its Starlink satellites in various ways, including coating some of them with materials to reflect them.
  • A study in December showed that these “Darksats” are about half as Starlink satellites as those launched by SpaceX. The company is also experimenting with other methods that may further reduce their reflective capacity.

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