SpaceX’s Starlink a WORSE threat to astronomy than light pollution

Mega-constellations of low Earth orbit satellites, including SpaceX Starlink and Amazon Kuiper, are a ‘worse threat to astronomy than light pollution’, experts warn.

There are 2,000 SpaceX Starlink satellites currently in space, with as many as 42,000 planned over the coming years, and it is just one of a number of firms looking to fill low Earth orbit with spacecraft, to provide fast, space-based internet.

These networks of tens to thousands of spacecraft have proven controversial, especially among astronomers, as they leave streaks in images of space. 

To combat the problem, and work with the satellite industry on a solution, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has launched the Center for the Protection of the Dark and Quiet Sky from Satellite Constellation Interference.

Piero Benvenuti, IAU General Secretary and director of the new centre, said these mega-constellations are the biggest threat facing modern astronomy.

He plans to bring together astronomers, mega-constellation operators, and regulators to find solutions, that could include software changes at observatories, and adjustments to satellites to reduce the impact they have on observations.

An image of the NGC 5353/4 galaxy group made with a telescope at Lowell Observatory in Arizona, US. The diagonal lines running across the image are trails of reflected light left by Starlink satellites soon after launch in 2019

While SpaceX is the most high profile of the mega-constellation providers, it isn’t alone in filling low Earth orbit with spacecraft – many of which reflect light to Earth.

Spread the love

Sign-up to receive current EMF NEWS and most recent BLOGS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.