Some of the companies have proposed to launch tens of thousands of new satellites into the medium to low orbit above the Earth which have made our Scientists get concerned about the impact. According to the Scientists they have some recommendations which can help to reduce the effect of there future satellites. Some of you must be having some doubts, “Why is there a need to
decrease the impact?”
According to some astronomers, after the launching of new satellites, they may see more and more satellites passing overhead that may ruin their work when they observe the night sky that could change their astronomical observations of the night sky as well as the Universe.
A group of Astronomers is proposing some recommendation before the launching that may lessen the impact of the launching of the new satellite, which may be challenging to reduce later.
Astronomers have a fear that these new satellites can mess up the Observations of the Universe. As according to them, the passing of bright satellites over an observatory can ruin the observations as these satellites can leave the white streaks across the image.
Proposal to launch new satellites
Some companies such as Amazon, SpaceX, OneWeb, and many others have proposed them to launch thousands of satellites into medium to low orbits above Earth as it will provide broadband internet access to the ground below. This constellation of new satellites will provide coverage to all the parts of the globe due to this these companies want these satellites to be massive in size.
SpaceX has gain permission (from FCC) to launch around 12,000 satellites above the Earth, Amazon has the permission to launch 3,236 satellites, OneWeb (which went bankrupt recently) planned to launch 650 satellites and some other companies are also looking to make some additions to their satellites. Some companies are planning of substantial add ons to their satellites constellations as SpaceX has already indicated its intention of launching 30,000 satellites constellations on the top of initial 12,000. In the same way, OneWeb was also looking for getting the approval to launch 48,000 satellites constellations even amid its bankruptcy
Impact of these constellations
Astronomers are so much concerned about the launching of thousands of new satellites. According to the astronomers, the satellites (by SpaceX) which are already there are exceptionally bright because of the design and their altitudes. Like shiny antennae are very much useful to reflect the light from the sky. A group of Astronomers worked with the representatives of SpaceX, Amazon, and OneWeb on a project and came to a study of what will be the effect of these thousands of new satellites on the Astronomy and how will it look like in the future. As per the report, this new satellites constellation will impact both the Astronomy and the Human Experience, and that could be extreme. The report confirmed that if some of the constellations are fully realized like OneWeb’s it may result in some observations will always be dealing with the satellites in their images.
Recommendations by the Astronomers
A group of Astronomers proposed a list of recommendation for both the observatories and satellite operators so that these new satellites constellations do not have a life-changing impact over the astronomers and both can live in harmony.
These are the following recommendations which are given by the astronomer’s group-
● According to the astronomers, one thing that can be done is “Improving the software tools and algorithms” by the observatories can result in removing the satellite streaks from images digitally.
● The software should be used to predict when and where these satellites will be at certain times as it will help the astronomers to avoid them while doing observations of the night sky.
● They also recommended that satellites should be designed as dark as possible. In order to reduce the reflectivity of the satellites, SpaceX is doing some experiments like, by first coating one satellite and then adding a visor to others. Some astronomers also
measured how this coating works, but they feel difficulty in observing the ones with visors because of the COVID-19.
● One of the recommendations is related to the orbital height of the satellites.
Some satellites will orbit above 600 kilometres, and Astronomers are a bit more concerned about them, as according to them these satellites will be visible in the sky for a more extended period and will be a big challenge for the Astronomy. The satellites of SpaceX will orbit lower than this limit, but the constellation which is proposed by OneWeb would orbit much higher than that.
Astronomers has endorsed the satellite operators that if you want to reduce flares on the ground they can modify the heights of the satellites. This group believes that an observational campaign of all these kind of satellites should be organized to determine their impact on astronomy and for this both the satellite operators and the astronomers should work together. As these observations can help the astronomers to predict where these satellites will be and how they will affect an image. There will be need of so many observatory sites and telescopes in this process.
The option of not launching these new satellites can minimize the impact but its not viable for the operators
There is still a lot of work which is to be done by astronomers and operators alike as these mega-constellations get fleshed out. In coming years many operators may fail to put these satellites up as many companies have been unable while trying to create the kind of constellations to provide broadband. But yes, it is good to be prepared in advance for such instances. Perhaps one way to minimize the risk to astronomy is to stop these satellite launches, but everyone knows that won’t be the case as it will not be feasible for the industry.