Experts look at growing number of satellites in orbit

SpaceX has launched thousands of satellites into orbit to provide high-speed Internet access in recent years. Companies like OneWeb and Amazon are doing the same.

Research into the impact of these satellites is now underway.

“This is our telescope control software,” said Tanner Campbell, a graduate student at the University of Arizona.

Using telescopes, researchers can monitor our celestial stars and satellites. “This guy here is a satellite,” Campbell said, pointing to the screen.

This is an important task, according to Vishnu Reddy, as more and more satellites are launched into low Earth orbit – also known as LEO. Reddy is a professor of planetary science.

“Imagine that the first Model T came out of the assembly line, and every time the car runs out of gas you leave it next to the highway and take a new car. That’s what we’re doing in space, ”Reddy said. “We have a problem with space traffic management.”

“It all started in 1957 with a satellite up there. Now in recent years, at the time Starlink launched its 60th, there were maybe 2,200, and that was it. Now, in two, two and a half years, we have doubled that, “said Connie Walker, co-director of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Satellite Constellation Interference Protection Center for Dark and Silent Sky. She is also a member of the National Science Foundation’s NOIRLab.

Statistics from the Union of Concerned Scientists database show that by the end of 2021, 4,078 satellites were in low Earth orbit. This number is increasing with each launch, and more and more companies are reporting on satellite launch for things like communication, banking, and high-speed Internet access.

“You’ll see that every month,” Walker said.

The new center, created this year and co-run by Walker, will focus on working with all space actors and researching the impacts of satellites in our sky. One effect is how they can interfere with scientific observations and data.

“Many observatories do long exposures, so when you have long exposures, the satellite constellations will be severely damaged,” Walker explained.

They can also affect the monitoring of risk observatories.

“The main example of this is the projects being used for potentially dangerous asteroids,” Walker said.

But Reddy said they are investigating possible solutions.

“You can create a lightening scenario where you can close the shutter on your telescope when the projected object passes through the field of view, and then you can reopen it when it’s gone, so you don’t damage the picture,” he said.

And then there’s the environmental aspect. Thousands of pieces floating around the Earth. The more pieces, the more chances of collision and chain reaction.

“There’s an environmental aspect, and there’s a national security aspect,” Reddy said.

Walker said that in the beauty of space, reflective pieces in orbit cause light pollution and can also have an impact on our culture. Experts say it’s about finding balance in space before it’s too much.

“It’s going to be really hard for business companies to stop doing what they’re doing,” he said. “Unfortunately, in the end, if you put in enough things, they’ll interact with each other unintentionally.”

“All of them come together,” Walker said. “The more content you have, the harder it is to alleviate. It’s harder to identify all of these chops. It’s hard to hide all those lines in the data you get. “

Experts look at growing number of satellites in orbit Source link Experts look at growing number of satellites in orbit

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