Science

SpaceX satellites pose new headache for astronomers

SpaceX satellites pose new headache for astronomers”

Captured by Marco Langbroek, an astronomer and spy satellite tracker, Langbroek was able to record the stunning display by calculating the orbit of the launch of the Falcon 9. One, Alex Parker, suggested that there could eventually be more Starlink satellites visible to the naked eye than stars. He used a WATEC 902H astronomy camera paired with a Canon FD 1.8/50 mm lens, and equipped with a Global Positioning System time inserter. To observe and capture them, astronomers need to make careful calculations and find a flawless viewing spot.

"There is a lot of new technology here, so it's possible that some of these satellites may not work", Musk said in a call with reporters last week. Musk has said the company has "sufficient capital" to move forward with the mission and that the latest round of funding brought "more interest than we were seeking". There are many other companies that are vying for that piece of the pie.

This is a great website, which will help you to locate not only the Starlink swarm of satellites, but also help you locate the times of passage of many other bright spacecraft, such as the International Space Station and Hubble Space Telescope. But Musk, unfazed by the #MuskRuinsDusk tweets that swept through Twitter, doesn't seem to think it'll be a problem at all. SpaceX's satellites aren't meant to be in Earth's orbit forever - they will fall back on Earth after a span of five years, burning up in the atmosphere on their way down. This is an additional obstruction when observing the nightsky with sensitive instruments.

There have been some concerns that the satellites would add to the "space debris", phenomena, but Musk has repeatedly said that they would not affect astronomy. "I live on the outskirts of Brighton in light-polluted skies and I could easily see this line of satellites going across the sky".

To get a sense of the current situation, there are now 2,100 active satellites orbiting our planet. As long as the satellites are helping billions of people who live in connectivity starved areas get internet, "it's worth it" in his opinion.

"The "Starlink" mission", if successful, would ultimately put 12,000 satellites into orbit over the next few years.



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