Starlink satellites SpaceX can create a problem for ground-based astronomy

Last week, the company SpaceX launched the first of 60 satellites of the future network cheap satellite Internet Stralink, which will consist of up to 12 000 units. The launch of the compact satellites weighing 227 pounds passed without any problems. And the inhabitants of many parts of the world was even lucky enough to observe the “train” flying in ryadochek of spacecraft in low earth orbit. But, of course, all of these as well as future spacecraft will be in orbit of our planet is not as orderly. And this, in turn, raises serious concerns among astronomers, who believe that the satellites Elon musk can create problems in many telescopes around the world.

As indicated the satellites by themselves due to their compact design, not very reflective and not visible to the naked eye. And as soon as the devices are distributed on orbit, they will be even dimmer. But the problem is that astronomers have come to rely not only on his own eyes, but also on very sensitive equipment.

According to astronomer Alan Duffy from Swinburne University of Technology (Australia), the current orbital group of satellites already creates some problems for ground-based telescopes.

“Satellites do create difficulties for scientific observations, but astronomers devised clever methods that allow them to solve,” says Duffy.

“Optical telescopes such as Pan-STARRS will automatically “mask” flying line of sight to the satellites on the images. However, radio telescopes such as ASKAP, the Australian, more complex accounts. Has to maneuver between the frequencies, as otherwise the equipment may be “blinded” bright satellite navigation signals like GPS,” explains the scientist.

According to the office for outer space Affairs of the UN right now orbiting the earth 5162 artificial object, 2,000 of which were actively being exploited. Additional network deployment of the 12,000 satellites will be unprecedented in all respects.

Satellites Starlink will kill terrestrial radio astronomy

The environmentin which we live is filled with all kinds of radio waves: the signals of Wi-Fi stations, cell towers, wireless networks that produce a huge amount of radio noise and so on. But satellites are an even more serious problem for radio telescopes than any other ground-based equipment.

“Full deployment of the Starlink network satellites probably will mean the end for ground-based microwave radio telescopes, which are used to search for very weak signals,” adds Duffy.

“The enormous benefits offered global coverage satellite Internet, unfortunately, outweigh the benefits of astronomy. Therefore, we are likely to lose the opportunity of observing the residual glow from the Big Bang and flashes of the birth of new stars from the Earth.”

According to Duffy, satellites Starlink is bound to cause interference in observations. The scientist believes that humanity “should build a radio telescope on the far side of the moon” where he will be shielded from all that radio noise coming from our planet and near-earth space.

By the way, doesn’t seem like the solution to the problem of interference, which will interfere with the astronomical observations, found in SpaceX.

Last year an astronomer at the National radio astronomy Observatory, USA Harvey Sheet addressed a letter to the Federal communications Commission (FCC) expressing serious concern over the Starlink project.

According to the Sheet, the coordination between several national observatories and the company SpaceX is “in vain stopped around mid-2017, after a preliminary and rather superficial evaluation by the radio of the likely challenges and ways in which SpaceX plans to solve them.”

One reason for this passivity in the solving of this issue can be explained by the fact that SpaceX itself may consider these 60 first running Starlink satellites as a test. Supposedly with the draft still did not clear, and therefore not worth the rush. In addition, in 2015, various experts and industry analysts have questioned the profitability of projects such as Starlink. However, the company through “Twitter” has confirmed that plans to conduct six launches in 2019, which will display the new satellites.

Satellite Internet SpaceX — more space debris

Problems that can create the satellites Starlink related not only to radio astronomy, and space environment. Twelve thousand moons – that’s a lot of potential new space debris.

“SpaceX is proposing to place 12,000 new satellites in low earth orbit — where the bulk of space debris. The launch of these devices in just a few years will increase the overall weight of the trash is actually 40 percent. The accumulation of such volumes in orbit, humanity has taken 60 years. We expect a tremendous increase in space debris,” comments Alice Gorman, a space archaeologist from Flinders University (Australia).

In fairness it should be noted that SpaceX is still in the 2017 FCC filed a patent which described the methods of solution of the problems with space debris because of its satellites, as well as methods for rapid de-orbit devices, whose lifetime (5-7 years) will come to its end.

“The satellites will be disposed in low-earth orbit to a storage orbit, then descend into the earth’s atmosphere and about a year after the end of its mission it to burn,” explained the company.

But it is unlikely to help, if even before the completion of his term of service the satellite or satellites of the company will be damaged as a result of collision with other space debris, which is present in low earth orbit. And as recently shown, the operation of the International space station, only a small grain of sand to create a big problem for spacecraft.

“If SpaceX methods do not work, then according to the assumptions of the company, to independent descent into the atmosphere from the failed satellite will take about 5 years. This is a huge amount of time, which could happen anywhere. During this time the idle satellite can be destroyed by collisions with other space debris objects, which again will increase its volume in orbit,” explained Gorman.

Only one incident can start a cascade of destructive events, the so-called Kessler syndrome, a hypothetical development of events in earth orbit, described by NASA consultant Donald Kessler in 1978, when space debris resulting from the numerous launches of artificial satellites, leads to the utter uselessness of near space for practical use.

“The problem of space debris is very often a blind eye. According to one estimate, at least 40 percent of all ongoing space missions and launches of not following the proposed UN regulations to reduce the appearance of new debris in orbit,” says Gorman.

“SpaceX offers the right steps to deorbiting used satellites, as well as methods that will allow you to avoid a collision. But how this works in practice with such a large number of new satellites – the question”.

What think our readers? What is more important: affordable satellite Internet or answers to the deepest mysteries of the cosmos? To discuss the article and share your opinion in our Telegram chat.

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