As SpaceX gears to launch more of its fleet of satellites to establish Starlink, its space-based internet service, a consortium of astronomers have banded together to show their concerns that eventual presence of these satellites in space can affect their work in studying the stars.
There are only less than five hundred (500) satellites launched and currently in space by the aerospace company but specialists warned that further launching more would create a satellite constellation which is, according to Anthony Cuthberston’s article on The Independent, would be ‘extremely impactful’ in scientific research and progress.
SpaceX’s Starlink satellites were found to be bright and highly reflective wherein it can hamper scientific study and even branded as a ’photobomber’ to recent stellar activity. The latest incident is with it blocking the night sky view of Comet Neowise’s journey traversing Earth. It only happens once every 6800 years and because of that, you can imagine how infuriated members of the astronomical community and space enthusiasts are because of this gaffe.
There were instances that the satellites were even mistaken for hovering UFOs (unidentified flying objects)!
Members of the astronomical community compiled their findings in a report in the conclusion of their Satellite Constellations 1 (Satcon 1) workshop. With that, they came in a consensus that bright satellites will alter ground-based optical and infrared astronomy. The event was joined by more than 250 members of the astronomical community including but not limited to astronomers, satellite operators, and advocates according to Cuthberston.
Experts offered three possible solutions to this predicament. One is to lower the satellite’s brightness, or either ‘keep them low’, and alter the materials used to make it less reflective of the sun’s rays. But what it mainly advocates for the most is to not launch any more of them entirely.
In response to this, SpaceX is working on different ways to alter its satellites and heed to the recommendations laid by experts. So far, according to the same The Independent report, it has sought after the help of agencies such as the Green Bank Observatory (GBO) and National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NROA) to work on their satellites.
The company aims to launch more satellites in space, more than 30,000, in order to successfully establish its Starlink internet network service. But they are not the only one who is throwing their hat on the ring, Jeff Bezos’ Project Kuiper is posed to challenge the former and it’s on its way to do just that. Earlier this month, it has won approval from the Federal Communications Commission to proceed with it.