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Tech & ScienceSpaceX Starlink satellites dazzle but may cause headaches for astronomers

06:45  29 may  2019
06:45  29 may  2019 Source:   cnet.com

FCC approves SpaceX’s plans to fly internet-beaming satellites in a lower orbit

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More satellites equals cloudier eyeballs and Starlink plans to launch more satellites than ever. When the sun is reflecting off the satellite 's solar panels SpaceX was relatively mum about the design of the satellites leading up to launch, so it has come as a bit of a surprise to some astronomers just

On May 25, as the drifting luminescent army of satellites zoomed overhead, Dutch satellite tracker Marco Langbroek captured their marching, posting The quick answer: Not forever, no -- SpaceX are designing Starlink satellites to fall back to the Earth after about five years of service, burning up in

SpaceX Starlink satellites dazzle but may cause headaches for astronomers © Marco Langbroek

Those aren't an intelligent extraterrestrial army moving in to take over planet Earth -- they're just SpaceX's Starlink satellites, designed to provide broadband services across the globe.

The first batch of satellites were launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and deployed to orbit by a Falcon 9 rocket on May 23. Each contains a single solar array, which both captures and bounces sunlight off the satellites and, as a result, can sometimes be seen from Earth. On May 25, as the drifting luminescent army of satellites zoomed overhead, Dutch satellite tracker Marco Langbroek captured their marching, posting a stunning video to Vimeo.

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On May 25, Dutch satellite tracker Marco Langbroek set out on the march as the drifting, luminescent army of satellites flew across the sky. The quick answer: not forever, no – SpaceX is developing Starlink satellites , which fall back to earth after about five years of operation and burn up on the way

As helpful as SpaceX 's Starlink satellites may be, they could be a pain for astronomers . The Harvard-Smithsonian Center's Jonathan McDowell and others have observed that the internet satellites are bright enough to cause a "problem" for astronomy , and the eventual constellation of roughly 12

SpaceX Starlink satellites dazzle but may cause headaches for astronomers © Provided by CBS Interactive Inc. ufo

In time, the satellites will drift apart and head to specific orbits so that satellite internet coverage can be beamed to every corner of the globe.

However, as the unusual display in the night sky quickly gathered steam across social media, some astronomers began to point out the potential problems the satellite system may pose for astronomy. At present, only 60 satellites are moving into their orbit, but eventually that number will reach 12,000, and a megaconstellation will encircle the Earth. Practically overnight, our view of the sky has changed.

"We've become used to change in space activities as slow and incremental, and suddenly, it's fast and speeding up," said Alice Gorman, space archeologist at Flinders University, Australia. "By its very visibility, Starlink has opened up some big questions: who gets to use Earth orbit and what for?"

Elon Musk shows SpaceX's first internet satellites ready for launch

Elon Musk shows SpaceX's first internet satellites ready for launch This might be your best chance to get a peek at SpaceX's Starlink internet satellites before they're hurtled into orbit. Elon Musk has posted a photo (below) of the first 60 production satellites.

Elon Musk’s Starlink internet satellites ‘have no public consensus and may impair view of the cosmos’.

by space · May 28, 2019. Last week, SpaceX launched the first 60 satellites of the future network of “ Satellites do create difficulties for scientific observations, but astronomers have developed Starlink satellites will kill ground-based radio astronomy The environment in which we live is filled

Indeed, Starlink would triple the number of satellites orbiting the Earth. If thousands of satellites are sent into orbit, our view of space changes. Will we find ourselves in a position where it's impossible to investigate the cosmos from the ground?

The quick answer: not forever, no. SpaceX designed the Starlink satellites to fall back to the Earth after about five years of service, burning up in the atmosphere on their way back in. But the long answer is: potentially. Astronomers already wrangle with the problems posed by space robots and satellites circling the Earth whenever they turn their ground-based telescopes toward the stars. Bright, reflective surfaces pose a problem because they obstruct our view of the universe.

More satellites equals cloudier vision, and Starlink plans to launch more satellites than ever.

When the sun is reflecting off the satellites' solar panels, astronomers will have to account for the appearance of the satellites in their images. SpaceX was relatively mum about the design of the satellites leading up to launch, so it's come as a bit of a surprise to some astronomers just how bright they are. However, the satellites will position their solar panels as they establish themselves in orbit, which should reduce their brightness.

Watch SpaceX launch the first 60 satellites of its massive Starlink internet constellation

Watch SpaceX launch the first 60 satellites of its massive Starlink internet constellation Just a few thousand more to go after this

SpaceX launched 60 Starlink satellites in a train Thursday ( May 24) and A train of SpaceX Starlink satellites are visible in the night sky in this still from a video captured by But not a few astronomers were annoyed by the idea of having yet another bright satellite disrupting their view of the night sky.

Starlink is a satellite constellation development project underway by American company SpaceX , to develop a low-cost, high-performance satellite bus and requisite customer ground transceivers to

Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, perhaps summed it up best in a tweet, saying the satellites are "brighter than we had expected and still a problem, but somewhat less of a sky-is-on-fire problem."

"Somewhat less of a sky-is-on-fire problem" sounds slightly reassuring, at least. But there do seem to be clear issues for the astronomy community..

Elon Musk , SpaceX CEO, jumped to the defense of his satellite system and noted on Twitter how "potentially helping billions of economically disadvantaged people is the greater good," while making it clear that SpaceX plans to limit Starlink's effects on astronomy. "We care a great deal about science," Musk tweeted. He said he's sent a note to the Starlink team to reduce albedo -- that is, the amount of light the satellites reflect.

In addition, after a user suggested placing space telescopes using Starlink chassis into orbit to appease the astronomers, Musk said he "would love to do exactly that." That might ease concerns, but will it slow our quickening colonization of Earth's orbit? Unlikely.

SpaceX postpones Starlink satellite launch again, for 'about a week'

SpaceX postpones Starlink satellite launch again, for 'about a week' A SpaceX launch already scrubbed once due to inclement weather was postponed again nearly 24 hours later on Thursday, this time for "about a week," in order to update satellite software and "triple-check everything," Elon Musk's rocket company said. The delayed mission is designed to carry into low-Earth orbit an initial batch of 60 satellites for Musk's new Starlink global internet service, a venture intended to generate cash for the rest of the billionaire entrepreneur's space exploration ambitions.

SpaceX launched 60 internet satellites last week and their bright appearance has caused concern amongst astronomers , who say plans for 12,000 of them could ruin the night sky. The orbiting objects are Starlink satellites , produced by Elon Musk’s SpaceX and launched two days earlier.

SpaceX 's Starlink program is officially off the ground and a new video shows the project's first 60 orbiting These 60 orbiting Starlink satellites are just the first set. SpaceX intends to get almost 12 The prospect of global high-speed internet may be exciting to you, but astronomers would also

"Space agencies and organizations have been cluttering the sky for decades and taking a very lax attitude to the long-term consequences," said Gorman.

With a number of satellite constellations on the way, it will be critical for regulatory bodies and satellite providers to adequately manage the space debris and satellite problem, lest all of our space robots collide and lock us on Earth forever (yes, that's a faint but possible catastrophic scenario)

Meet the SpaceX Falcon Heavy, the world's most powerful rocket

SpaceX Starlink satellites dazzle but may cause headaches for astronomers
SpaceX Starlink satellites dazzle but may cause headaches for astronomers
SpaceX Starlink satellites dazzle but may cause headaches for astronomers
SpaceX Starlink satellites dazzle but may cause headaches for astronomers
SpaceX Starlink satellites dazzle but may cause headaches for astronomers
SpaceX Starlink satellites dazzle but may cause headaches for astronomers
SpaceX Starlink satellites dazzle but may cause headaches for astronomers
SpaceX Starlink satellites dazzle but may cause headaches for astronomers
SpaceX Starlink satellites dazzle but may cause headaches for astronomers
SpaceX Starlink satellites dazzle but may cause headaches for astronomers
SpaceX Starlink satellites dazzle but may cause headaches for astronomers
SpaceX Starlink satellites dazzle but may cause headaches for astronomers

Originally published May 27 at 11:07  p.m. PT.

Update May 28 at 5:39 a.m. PT: Adds comments from Alice Gorman.

SpaceX is in communication with all but three of 60 Starlink satellites one month after launch.
And two of the 60 have intentionally been de-orbited

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