RAS statement on Starlink satellite constellation

RAS statement on Starlink satellite constellation
The night sky above the European Southern Observatory site at La Silla, Chile. Credit: ESO / B. Tafreshi

The Royal Astronomical Society notes with concern the launch of the new SpaceX Starlink constellation of satellites into low-Earth orbit, and the potential impact of this and other programmes on views of the night sky and on astronomical research.

Starlink, and other similar networks planned by OneWeb, Amazon and Telesat, aim to provide global commercial internet coverage. Each network consists of thousands of satellites in low-Earth orbit—less than 2,000 kilometers altitude—that when fully deployed will be visible over a significant proportion of the sky from most of the inhabited world.

In their final orbits, the satellites will be relatively faint most of the time. Initial images of the constellation though suggest that they will exhibit frequent reflective flaring, where transient alignment with sunlight leads to temporary surges in brightness.

Increasing the number of satellites so significantly presents a challenge to ground-based astronomy. The deployed networks could make it much harder to obtain images of the sky without the streaks associated with satellites, and thus compromise astronomical research.

Given the scale of these projects, there is also the prospect of a significant and lasting change to the views of the night sky until now enjoyed throughout human history and prehistory. The night sky is part of the cultural heritage of humanity, and the Society believes that it deserves protection.

There appears to have been no consultation between SpaceX and the in advance of the Starlink launch, though since initial press reports we note that Elon Musk has responded indicating he wishes to minimise the impact on astronomy.

The Society welcomes this offer. We urge SpaceX, and other providers, to work with scientists, engineers and others to mitigate the effects of the new constellations. We also ask that the provider companies consider the impact on human heritage too—an issue that goes far beyond the concerns of the astronomical community.

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Citation: RAS statement on Starlink satellite constellation (2019, June 7) retrieved 19 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-06-ras-statement-starlink-satellite-constellation.html
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Jun 10, 2019
Starlink is "The Matrix" meets "Skynet."

The plan is to blanket the world in tens of thousands of low-orbiting, atmosphere skimming, very visible satellites that will blot out the stars and crash on us occasionally (approx. 100 uncontrolled de-orbits over land per year with a 10% de-orbit failure rate), while dominating internet and surveillance, as well as higher orbiting satellites in wartime.

Musk and Bezos are front running for the NSA, just like Howard Hughes pretended to be a treasure hunter for the CIA back in the day. Just like crony-capitalism and government Intel money keeps google and Facebook afloat and dominant.

Welcome to your prison planet.

Jun 10, 2019
Starlink: Your night sky ruined so the NSA can play spy games.

Jun 10, 2019
Even if they are below 6th magnitude and not visible to the naked eye they will be a problem. When most cameras can image a 14th magnitude object without breaking a sweat, these will be an absolute menace when you have a track through every sub.

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