Tech

Elon Musk sparks scientists with his swarm of Starlink satellites

A cluster of ELON Musk’s Starlink satellites is obstructing astronomers’ telescope vision, according to a new study.

Since 2019, Elon Musk has sent more and more Starlink satellites into orbit around the world through his company SpaceX.

A swarm of Elon Musk's Starlink satellites is obstructing astronomers' view.

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A swarm of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites is obstructing astronomers’ view.

Currently, the number of Starlink satellites orbiting the Earth at an altitude of about 550 km is approaching 1,800.

Now, however, astronomers are expressing concern that SpaceX instruments could hinder their scientific observations, especially those aimed at detecting near-Earth asteroids.

Starlink satellites have appeared as streaks in science telescope images so often that it has resulted in a research on it, recently published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

In particular, the study dissects the impact of the SpaceX Starlink Satellite on the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), operating from Caltech’s Palomar Observatory near San Diego.

“There is growing concern about the impact of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations on terrestrial astronomical observations, especially for wide-field surveys in optics and infrared,” the study states.

University of Warsaw astronomer and the study’s lead author, Przemek Mróz, also noted that between November 2019 and September 2021, the 5,301 satellite trails in the astrophotography could only be attributed to the Starlink satellite. .

Dr Przemek Mróz said: “In 2019, 0.5% of twilight images were affected and now almost 20% are affected. statement.

He added: “We don’t expect Starlink satellites to affect non-twilight images, but if other companies’ satellite constellations go into higher orbits, this could cause problems for satellites. non-twilight observation.

In the future, astronomers predict that nearly all ZTF images taken during twilight will contain at least one trail, as SpaceX plans to launch 10,000 Starlink satellites into orbit by 2027.

Currently, Starlink super satellite brings internet service to 24 out of nearly 200 countries around the world.

And to cope with that situation, SpaceX has started equipping the satellites with visors in 2020, which reduces their brightness by 4.6 times, but still, still too bright for the desired. of astronomers.

The Starlink satellites are showing as streaks in the telescope image.

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The Starlink satellites are showing as streaks in the telescope image.Credit: Alamy
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https://www.thesun.co.uk/tech/17378873/elon-musk-starlink-satellite/ Elon Musk sparks scientists with his swarm of Starlink satellites

Caroline Bleakley

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