Astronomers back technical efforts to reduce impacts of satellite megaconstellations while seeking regulatory solutions
With slow progress on regulation and policy, astronomers are making progress on other approaches to mitigate the effects that satellite megaconstellations will have on their observations.
A multibillion-dollar radio telescope is moving into its construction phase while still working to raise funding and deal with satellite megaconstellations whose interference “change the game” for their plans.
When SpaceX launched the first set of 60 Starlink satellites, the unexpected appearance of the satellites in twilight skies as a bright string of pearls dismayed astronomers. With SpaceX planning to launch potentially tens of thousands of such satellites, astronomers had visions — or, more accurately, nightmares — of a ruined night sky.
Tyvak released the first high-resolution images of objects in orbit and on the ground captured by telescopes the satellite manufacturer developed with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).
Google announced a three-year agreement Dec. 7 with the Vera C. Rubin Observatory (formerly known as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope) under construction in Chile to host data on the Google Cloud Platform.
A new report offers ways both astronomers and satellite developers can reduce the effect megaconstellations have on ground-based astronomy, but warned that no combination of measures can entirely eliminate the problem,
Astronomers who have spent the last year worried about the effect that SpaceX’s Starlink satellites will have on their observations say they are increasingly concerned about the impact from other proposed megaconstellations.
SpaceX has decided to add sunshades to future Starlink satellites to reduce their impact on astronomy, having opted for constellation-wide implementation of the reflective hardware.
Two senators have asked the GAO to review the FCC’s decision to exempt satellite constellations like SpaceX’s Starlink from an environmental review, given those satellites’ effect on the night sky.
SpaceX says it will take more steps to reduce the impact of its Starlink satellite constellation on astronomy, although astronomers disagree with statements by Elon Musk that the system will have “zero” effect on their work.
Since the first Starlink satellites launched in May, astronomers have complained that those satellites, and potentially other systems to be launched in the next few years, could make it far more difficult for astronomers to conduct observations using ground-based telescopes.
SpaceX says it’s committed to working with the astronomy community to address the brightness of its Starlink satellites, but some astronomers remain concerned about the deleterious effect that system and other megaconstellations will have on their field.
Radio astronomers say OneWeb has not, until recently, paid attention to their concerns about interference, but that it is not too late to avoid a spectrum conflict.
Despite complaints by individual astronomers and astronomical organizations, legal experts say there is little they can do under existing federal law and regulations to halt the deployment of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites.