THE astronomy is increasingly concerned about the increase in the number of satellite constellations in space. After studies showing that the interference of satellites in the images of observatories and the International Astronomical Union (Wow) to create a center to dialogue with companies and governments on regulation, is now the NASA that takes a stand on the topic.
Hubble images are affected by satellite
THE NASA sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (the American “Anatel”) expressing its concern about the increase in satellites. The document is not a recommendation that the FCC reject future plans for the FCC’s satellite shipments. SpaceX (which should exceed 12,000 pieces of equipment in its constellation, but a request for them to be done with prudence, without affecting the safety of space flights and maintaining the long-term sustainability of the space environment.
In addition to interferences in images from terrestrial observatories, the NASA is concerned about possible risks of accidents with space debris, collisions of satellites with other equipment, reduction of the launch window, reflections from satellites in manned missions (since most spacecraft and missions are carried out above 600 km) and interference in the Hubble telescope. the orbit of Hubble is 535 km above the Earth, while the satellites of the SpaceX are 600 km high. 8% of the images of the telescope are affected by equipment starlink.
Increase the number of images with satellite constellations
With Starlink completing its satellite constellation and more other companies (such as Amazon, Boeing and OneWeb), It is expected that “virtually all images” from Earth-based telescopes will have the trail of low-orbiting satellites.. However, the study that analyzed the impact on photos from space (done by the Zwicky Transient Facility) only looked at the appearance of Starlink equipment. Not out of annoyance with Elon Musk, but because the company’s internet service SpaceX is the most advanced (yes, things are only going to get worse), with more satellites in orbit. In 2019, 0.5% of photos were affected. Currently, it is 20% of the images.
Starlink was the first company to seek to reduce its (negative) impact on space images. Listening to the astronomical community, the company installed panels on the new generations of the satellite that act as “dark glasses”, protecting the light from being reflected by the antenna.
On the other hand, satellites from OneWeb and others from Amazon can have a longer impact on captures. Images are captured using the long exposure technique, which causes more light to be captured by the sensor (“photography” means drawing with light). OneWeb is launching its satellites at more than 600 km altitude (SpaceX works with smaller orbits) and Amazon will send its satellites at heights of 510 km, 610 km and 630 km. Satellites below 600 km, closer to Earth, are more visible than those at higher altitudes. However, after 600 km the satellites are illuminated for a longer time, causing a prolonged impact on image capture. Even in the search for objects close to Earth
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Source: Ars Technica