The huge constellations of satellites will change the methods of studying astronomers. Structures that will orbit Earth’s orbit to provide internet in remote locations – such as the SpaceX and Amazon project – may result in unprecedented visual phenomena and will impact the analysis of scientists.
“The potential impact of ‘megaconstellations’ on low Earth orbit (LEO), like the SpaceX Starlink network project, is estimated to be irrelevant to extreme,” said the Space website, according to the SATCON1 workshop, documented last Tuesday (26).
Scholars analyze what measures can be established to avoid impacts on terrestrial studies. To date, the recommendations are:
satellite launches at heights greater than 600 km;
reduction of the satellite’s brightness in the orientation control, fading or darkening the reflective surfaces;
investment in image processing software that minimizes interference from satellite constellations;
availability of satellite location information to the scientific community.
The same documentation also suggests that satellites are no longer launched in low Earth orbit, this being the only alternative to minimize the impacts of these constellations on spatial visualization. However, considering the millionaire investments in these structures and their financial potential, it will hardly be followed by companies.
Orbit covered with human presence
Currently, there are about 2,500 satellites in Earth’s orbit. The completion of network projects like SpaceX and the recently approved one from Amazon is already worrying the scientific community due to the probable “capacity” of the low orbit.
The impact of these huge structures on the space orbit varies according to each study. According to Space, it will depend on the “nature and objectives of the observation; the observer’s ability to remove or mask the satellite trail from its database; and the quantity, brightness and altitude of these satellites ”. For example, these satellites could impact the visibility of captures from telescopes sensitive to infrared light, where their brightness fully covers other more distant celestial bodies.
A “different” sky
For mere observers, the sky will have unprecedented characteristics. The lights that caught the attention of Brazilians can be a constant phenomenon and even more present in the coming years – as the constellations are composed of thousands of satellites.
The most recent took place in Sarapuí (SP), where student Douglas Pulga caught “stars” and more luminous points in the sky. “I was scared, because it is not something that we see on a daily basis. I started counting and saw more than 20 ‘stars’, but they spent a lot more. I called the family. My parents thought it was ‘ending the world’. It was funny and scary at the same time, ”said the boy in a statement to G1.
The full study on the impact of megaconstellations discussed at the SATCON 1 workshop is public and can be accessed here.