Researchers warn Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite will hamper astronomy

Hundreds of astronomers simultaneously warned that organized groups of satellites such as Elon Musk’s Starlink network could have a huge impact on astronomical research as well as other sciences.

A report by workshop Satellite Constellations 1 (Satcon1) has shown that glowing satellite “constellations” will completely change the ability to study astronomy based on optics as well as infrared on the ground. Not only that, these types of satellite groups will change the night sky landscape everywhere in the world.

This workshop brings together more than 250 astronomers, satellite operators as well as a number of campaigners calling for keeping the night sky dark, with the aim of understanding the astronomical effects of large satellite groups. The research report states: “We have found that worst-case satellite group designs have shown a very bad effect on some scientific research program.”

Image of Starlink satellite chain in the night sky was recorded.

The plan of SpaceX, the private aerospace company behind by billionaire Elon Musk, is to launch more than 30,000 Starlink satellites into orbit to transmit high-speed internet to the ground. In the study there are warnings: “The Starlink system alone can double the number of moving space objects observed in the night sky.”. Ways to minimize this influence include “Make us go”, “Let them fly in low orbit” and “Orient them to lessen the reflection of sunlight”But of course, the number one priority this report suggests is “Don’t launch them”.

Recently, SpaceX has suffered many continuous criticisms for interruption in observing the night sky because the Starlink satellite network is increasing day by day, with the current number of 500. Launches in 2019, hundreds of reports of UFO sightings have emerged because of their unusual arrangement, the shape that some astronomers have compared to “a string of glittering pearls”. Most recently, SpaceX has been directly criticized for interfering with observations of comet Neowise last month, whose period it travels to Earth every 6800 years. These criticisms are completely grounded, when many timelapse photos of Neowise comet as well as some other outer space objects suddenly… appeared light trails. Nothing else, these light trails are created by chains of Starlink satellites in low orbit.

Researchers warn Elon Musk s Starlink satellite will hamper astronomy | Explore

Several approaches have been suggested to mitigate the influence of the large number of satellites in orbit.

The Starlink project does a very good job of opening up the possibility of providing high-speed internet to remote areas all over the surface of the Earth, starting with some suburbs in Canada and slowly moving towards the Equator as more satellites have been launched. For its part, SpaceX has also taken various measures to reduce the visibility of the satellite network, including painting them black and adjusting the orientation of solar panels to reduce reflective level.

The American Astronomical Society (AAS), the organization behind the Satcon1 event, worked directly with SpaceX to test and develop a variety of methods to clarify the problem. SpaceX also said it has also worked with the US National Radio Observatory Observatory (NROA) as well as the Green Bank Observatory to minimize the influence of its satellites.

Professor Tony Tyson from the University of California has revealed that one of the mitigation strategies discussed with SpaceX is to make the Starlink satellites 10 times darker in order to remove the traces they make. He also shared: “However, even if this works as expected, traces generated by the satellites will clearly appear in the datasets, complicating statistical processes and limiting data. ability to explore. If there are tens of thousands of low-orbiting satellites, we can confirm that no matter how we take them, the effects of their traces on the research programs that institutions Optical astronomy will do. “

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