Astronomers had been sending satellites to revolve around the Earth since the ’50s, and now there’s a total of 2,666 such spacecraft that orbit our planet. But even so, SpaceX plans to lift a lot more satellites for granting internet access to remote regions across the world. If everything goes according to the plan, the space agency will launch 12,000 more satellites in the upcoming years, and there’s even a possible extension to 42,000.
While any satellite is launched into space for noble purposes, there’s also a negative side. Scientists had been worrying that the ambitious plans of SpaceX will lead to a much more hindered sight of the night sky, and now a new study is also supporting the claim.
Astronomers will never observe the night sky as they did before
The recent Satellite Constellations 1 (SATCON1) workshop led to a new report called “Impact of Satellite Constellations on Optical Astronomy and Recommendations Toward Mitigations.” The report spoke about the changes needed:
Changes are required at both ends: constellation operators and observatories. SpaceX has shown that operators can reduce reflected sunlight through satellite body orientation, Sun shielding, and surface darkening. A joint effort to obtain higher-accuracy public data on predicted locations of individual satellites (or ephemerides) could enable some pointing avoidance and mid-exposure shuttering during satellite passage.
However, the CEO of SpaceX, Elon Musk, wouldn’t be so pessimistic, saying that he is “confident that we will not cause any impact whatsoever in astronomical discoveries.”
Until now, SpaceX sent into orbit a total of 600 satellites for assuring more internet connectivity for offline regions. Oddly enough, only 4.57 billion people are using the internet nowadays. That’s almost half of the world population, while the most offline countries are India (685 million people aren’t connected to the internet) and China (with 582 million people).