(ORDO NEWS) — Over the past two years, SpaceX has sent more than 950 Starlink satellites into space. But in the future, it intends to send 12,000 objects into earth orbit, and for this it already has permission from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The company floods the near-earth space with satellites for good purposes, because it wants to provide Internet to even the most remote places on our planet. In 2020, Starlink satellite Internet began working in test mode and the first users have already shared their reviews. But astronomers are far from happy with the launched satellites, because they reflect sunlight and prevent them from studying distant space objects. And if there are even more satellites, researchers may miss the approach of a dangerous asteroid, which is fraught with a worldwide catastrophe. But recently, Starlink satellites have begun to reflect less light and are almost invisible to the naked eye. What happened?
New Starlink satellites
SpaceX has long been aware of astronomers’ complaints about its satellites. To reduce reflections from satellites, in early summer 2020, new models were launched into Earth’s orbit, equipped with protective visors. The new type of satellites was named VisorSat and their beauty lies in the fact that the visors do not allow the sun rays falling on them to be strongly reflected. At first, the idea of the company seemed dubious, but in the end it proved to be effective. The reflectivity of satellites is called albedo, and recently scientists have found that after the installation of protective visors, this figure has significantly decreased.
The scientific publication Science Alert shared the good news with reference to Business Insider. The first Starlink satellites were launched into low-earth orbit in the first half of 2019. First, these devices fall to an altitude of 440 kilometers, and then turn on their engines and rise to 550 kilometers. Since at that time they strongly reflected sunlight, it was possible to notice them in the sky even with the naked eye. The string of satellites was clearly visible over the Netherlands, and amateur astronomer Marco Langbroek was even able to capture the phenomenon on video.
Danger of light pollution
After the launch of several batches of satellites, the scientific community began to complain that they could create many problems. The fact is that many scientists are photographing distant space objects in long exposure photos. And satellites flying across the sky leave behind long light “tails” and spoil the footage. The number of devices for creating a worldwide Internet will increase in the future, so there is a risk that space exploration using ground-based telescopes will be impossible. The use of VisorSat satellites has partially reduced the percentage of risk – the satellites are no longer visible to the naked eye. But SpaceX still needs to improve them, because they still pose some problems for astronomers. That’s why astronomer Jonathan McDowell called SpaceX’s new success “a victory, but not complete.”
As you can see, SpaceX is trying to somehow solve the problem. But there are other companies in the world that want to launch their own satellite Internet. OneWeb has been implementing a similar idea for a long time, and recently it became known that Amazon wants to join this race. The Chinese company GW plans to launch as many as 13,000 satellites into orbit of our planet, and it is not yet clear whether they will be equipped with protective satellites or not. The aforementioned astronomer Jonathan McDowell is also concerned that some companies like OneWeb want to send their satellites into higher orbit. This means that they can interfere with the work of even space satellites. But this is fraught not only with the fact that scientists will have difficulty studying space. They also need to monitor the movement of asteroids, one of which may well fly towards our planet in the future. If you do not notice them in time and do not take action, a disaster can happen.
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