Home https://server7.kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/sruj/smyrwpoii/p2/ Science https://server7.kproxy.com/servlet/redirect.srv/sruj/smyrwpoii/p2/ Why SpaceX's plan to launch 25,000 satellites into orbit is bad news for astronomers

Why SpaceX's plan to launch 25,000 satellites into orbit is bad news for astronomers

It is true that commercialization is often to the detriment of science. The Internet, once an academic and intellectual space, free of ads, has been transformed into a digital billboard; also, the commercialization of radio waves impedes radio astronomy on Earth due to interference from Wi-Fi, AM / FM, and television signals. Now, as capitalists prepare to commercialize space, astronomers have renewed the cause of being upset by a SpaceX message, which could make terrestrial observational astronomy much more difficult, forcing astronomers to work on the satellite's night-time skylight. [19659002] The private company, founded by Elon Musk, launches one of its Cape Canaveral reusable missiles on Monday with 60 satellites on board as part of the Starlink constellation, which will jointly provide satellite internet worldwide, with other applications. The launch was the second payload on a satellite constellation, which would eventually be made up of tens of thousands of orbiting transmitters if everything went according to plan. However, even though the mission is obscured by a humanitarian cause, this week has triggered concerns that many in space science have about imprinting so many satellites, such as reflected sunlight.

"I'm concerned [that] the launch of the SpaceX satellite marks the beginning of a new era," Avi Leob, chairman of the Harvard Astronomy Department, told the Email Salon.

In October, Musk announced that its company requests permission from the Federal Communications Commission to operate 30,000 satellites, in addition to the 12,000 that have already been approved, as of January 2019, there were about 5,000 satellites, 1 950 of which are still operational. of satellites around Earth to a state that astronomers never have

"They are already requiring 30,000 new satellites beyond the 12,000 that have been made available, and their numbers will grow further without space laws to curb growth," Loeb added. " is to find a technological solution that minimizes the imprint of these satellites on telescopic images (otherwise we will always have to avoid their predictable locations or move optical observatories to the moon). "

Until satellites are not necessarily a new problem for astronomers, the brightness of the east SpaceX's satellites are troubling.

"The problem is particularly acute for the Large Synoptic Research Telescope (LSST), which will survey many times the sky," Lob explained. "There is no doubt that it will be addressed in the Decennial Astronomy Survey of 2020, which will summarize the astronomy community's priorities for the next decade."

LSST will rely on a large camera to explore the entire sky once every at least three nights to study dark energy, dark matter and asteroids. The project is due to begin in 2022. Because it will explore such a wide field, satellites such as Starlink's could significantly affect it. LSST researchers are currently analyzing how 50,000 new satellites, according to SpaceX data, can influence LSST observations. According to Nature, early findings suggest that the telescope may lose significant amounts of observation time.

The first batch of Starlinks, launched in space in May, has already caused some problems. In September, the European Space Agency (ESA) had to move its Aeolus mapping satellite from the Starlink satellite path to avoid a collision.

"We view it as part of a changing environment," Steen Lemmens, a ESA space waste analyst, told Time Forbes. "We want to raise awareness in this sense that there is a lot of work that needs to be done to ensure that these types of operations run smoothly in the future."

After the first launch, the American Astronomical Society issued a statement aimed at their fears, which went beyond potential clashes and the impacted observation times.

"The number of such satellites is expected to increase to the tens of thousands over the next few years, creating the potential for significant adverse impacts. to Earth and space based astronomy, "the release said. "These impacts may include significant disturbances in optical and near-infrared observations by the direct detection of satellites in reflected and emitted light; contamination of radio astronomical observations by electromagnetic radiation in satellite communication tapes; and collision with space observatories. "

In fact, those who study space are afraid of these satellites are only the beginning of more space-commercializing technologies.

"These mega-stars are just getting started," Danika Remy, president of b612, told Salon in an emailed statement. "The problem with LEO satellite traffic will only grow. At the same time, with the rise of satellite communications, like those launched by SpaceX, humanity is collectively launching many more constellations. "

She added:" They will be able to do things like tracking methane gas, illegal fishing in the seas, human migration from war and famine, water levels, fires and fire management and many other things that we are just now starting to do. imagine, develop and deploy. "

Lob stated that the launch of Salon Monday was another reminder of the growing conflict between business and science.

"There is an advantage in this situation, namely, radio transmitters used for communication and self-driving cars interfere with radio telescopes," Loeb said. "As a result, there are federal regulations on frequency bands that can be used for commercial purposes."

"One can imagine similar provisions for the number [of] or the luminosity of satellites," he said.

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