SpaceX promises to lessen astronomical interference – To lessen the impact of Starlink on astronomy, SpaceX and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have reached an agreement.
Astronomers are in a difficult situation because of the company’s broadband satellites. Professional and amateur astronomers alike have expressed complaints about Starlink’s constellation spoiling the night sky and obstructing their observations across the globe.
Satellite tracks are frequently visible in long exposure photos of the night sky:
In order to lessen the influence on astronomy, SpaceX has taken steps such as painting the satellites a darker colour to make them less reflective, altering their orientation, and incorporating sunshades. All of these safeguards, meanwhile, only go so far.
According to the NSF, it has decided to work with SpaceX to lessen the effect on ground-based optical and infrared astronomy instruments. SpaceX has pledged to implement suggestions made by a number of important astronomy organisations, including lowering the optical brightness of their satellites to 7th visual magnitude or fainter.
Satellites can also cause frequency bleed, which is when they emit radiation at frequencies different than their normal radio frequency. This makes it even harder for radio astronomers to isolate what they are watching and filter out other background noises.
The National Science Foundation and SpaceX have agreed that Starlink satellites would not broadcast when orbiting radio astronomy stations.
According to NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan, “We are laying the groundwork for a successful relationship between commercial and public endeavours that allows critical scientific research to flourish alongside satellite communication.”
Tens of thousands of satellites will be launched by SpaceX alone for its global network. Amazon and OneWeb, two rivals, are accelerating their own debuts as well.
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