Starlink causes a problem in space: it is difficult to distinguish between asteroids and satellites

Starlink causes a problem in space: it is difficult to distinguish between asteroids and satellites

A new study appears in the scientific journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.

A NASA spokesperson said: “This will make ground-based observations more difficult, and will also make it difficult to distinguish asteroids, comets and satellites.” The Wall Street Journal.

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In 2019, the noise rate was 0.5%. In the past three years, the incidence of man-made noise has increased 35 times. The researchers reviewed nearly 300,000 images taken by the Polomar Observatory in California.

They fear that all astronomical observations will be affected when SpaceX is operating at full capacity with about 10,000 satellites.

This is just a fifth of the satellites that are scheduled to be launched in the next eight years.

Although many companies have satellites in orbit around the Earth, the researchers behind the study say they focused on SpaceX because the company is the biggest player today.

Picked 150 last month

Thus satellites can also make it difficult to find dangerous asteroids, although the authors behind the study note that the chances of that are slim.

Starlink owner Elon Musk plans to launch a Falcon 9 rocket fully loaded with SpaceX satellites next week. This may mean that the number of satellites will double during the year. In the last month alone, about 150 satellites have been launched.

This isn’t the first time the Starlink project has been criticized by the scientific community. In the summer of 2020, hundreds of astronomers warned that all satellites bound for space would be a disaster for scientific development.

A comprehensive report then described how Internet networks would fundamentally change the conditions for optical and infrared observations from Earth.

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blocking the guilty

The expert group that produced the report then stated that comprehensive measures must be implemented in order not to cause a disaster for astronomy.

In August 2020, the Starlink project also received heavy criticism for obscuring the comet Neowise, which passes through Earth only every 6,800 years.

In the time-lapse images of the comet, you can see the Starlink noise. The new study indicated that the company worked to reduce the impact of satellites, but it was clearly not working as intended.

The problems will only get worse

The problems of astronomical observations will only increase in scope at the same time as more and more satellites are launched.

By 2030, it is expected that there will be about 50,000 Internet satellites in orbit around the Earth. Amazon, Oneweb, and Starlink mentioned above will be behind most of them.

The researchers also warned that the problem could not be fixed with software.

“We are facing a tipping point in astronomy, where we will see a growing noise problem that will have disastrous consequences for science,” Connie Walker, astronomer and president of the International Astronomical Union, told The Wall Street Journal. SpaceX did not want to comment on the criticism.

Elon Musk’s Starlink project currently consists of about 1,900 satellites.

When everything is ready, the network should be able to deliver 1 Gbps of bandwidth to each end user when it is properly optimized in coverage areas.

Starlink satellites weigh 260 kg and feature a compact design.

Four powerful “phased array” antennas should provide good coverage. The satellites have a built-in solar panel, navigation sensors and propulsion systems that contribute to the precise control of signals toward Earth.

Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

"Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff."

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