SpaceX satellites pose new headache for astronomers

Katie Ramirez
June 1, 2019

The company's first fleet of LEO satellites will give the company a more comprehensive grasp of the potential speeds the StarLink web of satellites can realize, plus a better understanding of technical obstacles. A bunch of other companies including Jeff Bezos-backed Blue Origin, have plans to launch their own satellite constellations out into space.

On Friday, May 24, Elon Musk's SpaceX launched 60 Starlink satellites into Earth's orbit to begin a global internet service.

The booster landed on the drone ship in the Atlantic on May 23, just minutes after having propelled 60 Starlink satellites into orbit.

The launch of 60 Starlink satellites by Elon Musk's SpaceX has grabbed the attention of people around the globe.

The Starlink is created to connect end users with low latency, high bandwidth broadband services capable of up to 1Gbps even in rural areas. It showed the satellites on the train as they passed through the night sky (you can see the video given below), although they will separate over time.

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Communications with satellites in geosynchronous orbits often require satellite dishes, which you can see on the sides of residential apartment buildings. The mission is aimed at providing broadband internet services from space. For comparison, there are roughly 18,000 objects in Earth orbit that are tracked, including about 2,000 functioning satellites.

But astronomers told Forbes they worry the firm's Starlink satellites will interfere with gathering of imagery. Indeed, there's a certain thrill to seeing the International Space Station pass overhead, and to know there are people living on board that distant light. "Although they promise to revolutionize global telecommunications, these efforts are not free of peril: As the number of satellites inexorably grows, so, too, does the risk of creating unsafe debris that could threaten the continued safe use of Earth orbit", the magazine reported, noting that the planet is now spinning amid 2,000 active satellites.

Darren Baskill, an astronomer at the University of Sussex toldThe Guardian, "Everyone's quite surprised by how bright they are". This ambitious goal has raised concerns from some astronomers who worry about the affect the satellites will have on visibility.

Observers in Arizona have a special opportunity to view the Starlink satellites by checking out N2YO.com.

NASA estimates there are more than 5,000 satellites orbiting the Earth.

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