Experts are paying attention to the increasing number of satellites in orbit – Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky

Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky 2022-05-05 18:13:37 –

SpaceX has put thousands of satellites into orbit to provide high-speed Internet access over the past few years. Companies like OneWeb and Amazon are doing the same.

Research is currently underway to investigate the effects of these satellites.

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

Telescopes allow researchers to monitor the stars and satellites in our sky. “This guy here is a satellite,” Campbell said, pointing at the screen.

It’s an important task, Vishnu Reddy said, as more and more satellites are launched into low earth orbit (also known as LEO). Lady is a professor of planetary science.

“Imagine the first Model T coming out of the assembly line and picking up a new car next to the highway every time the car runs out of gas. That’s what we’re going to space. That’s it, “Reddy said. “There is a problem with space traffic management.”

“Everything started with one satellite in 1957. Well, in the last few years, just around the time Starlink launched the 60, there were probably 2,200, and that was it. We are now two years, In two and a half years, we have more than doubled it, “said Connie Walker, co-director of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Center for the Protection of Dark and Quiet Sky from Satellite Constellation Interference. She is also part of the National Science Foundation’s NOIR Lab.

Since the end of 2021, 4,078 satellites have been in low earth orbit, according to statistics from the Union of Concerned Scientists database. The number is increasing with each launch, and more and more companies are interested in satellite launches such as communications, banking, and high-speed Internet access.

“You will see it every month,” Walker said.

Created this year and co-supervised by Walker, the new center will focus on working with all players in space to study the effects of our sky satellites. One impact is how they interfere with scientific observations and data.

“Many observatories have long exposures, so long exposures make them very susceptible to satellite constellations,” Walker explains.

It can also affect observatories that monitor hazards.

“A classic example of this is the project they are using for potentially dangerous asteroids,” Walker said.

However, Lady said that possible solutions are being researched.

“You can come up with a mitigation scenario where you can close the telescope’s shutter when the predicted object passes through the field of view and reopen it when it’s gone. That won’t ruin it. Photo” He said.

And there is the environmental aspect. Thousands of debris are floating around the earth. The more pieces you have, the more likely you are to collide or chain reaction.

“It has an environmental side and a national security side,” Lady said.

Walker said it could also affect the beauty of the universe, the orbital reflections that cause light pollution, and the potential impact on our culture. Experts say it’s all about finding balance before it becomes overkill in space.

“It will be really difficult for for-profit companies to stop doing what they are doing,” he said. “Unfortunately, in the end, if you put enough things, they will interact with each other you don’t want.”

“All of this is added up,” Walker said. “The more you have, the harder it is to mitigate. It’s hard to identify all those steaks. It’s hard to hide all these streaks of the data you get.”

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