Star Block: Astronomers Believe That Elon Musk's Train Of StarLink Satellites May Eventually Block Our View Of The Stars

Science

Astronomers are now complaining that SpaceX's satellite fleet launched on May 23  may block their view of the stars, as per an MIT Technology Review article published on Tuesday.

Written By Suchitra Karthikeyan | Mumbai | Updated On:
Photo: SpaceX and SatTrackCam

Astronomers are now complaining that SpaceX's satellite fleet launched on May 23  may block their view of the stars hindering their observations, as per an MIT Technology Review article published on Tuesday.

Earlier, on May 23, SpaceX launched the first 60 satellites of its dream broadband satellite fleet - Starlink, into the orbit, using a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, USA.
Stunning visuals from the launch were tweeted by SpaceX's CEO and founder Elon Musk

A day after the launch, on May 24 a Dutch satellite tracking station SatTrackCam Leiden had captured the 60 satellites travelling in space in a single file - almost like a train. 
The video captured by the station shows a string of shiny star-like objects (the Starlink satellites) moving in a single file diagonally across the pitch-black night sky. The satellites were seen in clusters of two or three while some were single. But all were equidistant from each cluster, following the same trajectory at the same speed. 

Here's the link to the video: https://vimeo.com/338361997

 

STUNNING: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's Dream Interconnected Satellite Fleet Starlink Gets Its First 'battalion', Launches 60 Satellites Into Earth's Lower Orbit

While the sight of the satellite train created a slight scare in the Netherlands with rumours of an alien invasion running around, according to MIT Tech review these satellites will only be visible at dusk and dawn, rather than at night. The reason for their bright appearance across the dark sky was probably due to large solar arrays that are reflecting sunlight back to Earth, according to the journal.

The major concern which has been raised by some astronomers is that there could eventually be more Starlink satellites visible to the naked eye than stars. Talking to Forbes, Ronald Drimmel from the Turin Astrophysical Observatory in Italy said, "Starlink, and other mega constellations, would ruin the sky for everyone on the planet."

While the father of this star fleet, Elon Musk was initially defensive and said the constellation would not affect observations at all, he had then asked the Starlink team to look at ways of reducing the reflectivity of the satellites—and even suggested that he might be interested in putting a telescope into orbit, as per the journal.

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What is the Starlink project?

This launch is part of the series of satellites to be launched to complete SpaceX's ambitious project of building an interconnected satellite network to beam high-speed internet to anywhere on the planet. According to Musk, the entire Starlink network would consist of 11,943 satellites flying close to Earth, closer than the International Space Station. This has raised concerns among few scientists who believe this continuous stream of satellites launched in the orbit may leave a catastrophic clutter of space debris which could block rockets from leaving Earth, an effect known as "Kessler syndrome".
 

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