By B.N. Frank
Experts continue warning against the launching of more internet satellites for various health and safety risks (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9). In fact, since 2017, doctors and scientists have asked for 5G moratoriums on Earth and in space (see 1, 2).
Of course warnings about dangerous levels of space junk and increasing light pollution started before the massive launching of internet satellites. Now this is just making a bad situation worse.
From Science Magazine:
Study finds nowhere on Earth is safe from satellite light pollution
There appears to be nowhere left on Earth where astronomers can view the stars without light pollution from space junk and satellites, according to a new analysis. The study considered the tens of thousands of objects in orbit as of 2020—before an onslaught of thousands more satellites that companies plan to launch in the coming years.
“It’s a bit of an eye opener,” says John Barentine, director of public policy at the International Dark-Sky Association, who helped author the study, accepted today in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters and posted online. “As space gets more crowded, the magnitude of this effect will only be more, not less.”
Astronomers are already on edge about megaconstellations of satellites. Since 2019, SpaceX has launched more than 1000 Starlink communications satellites for a global internet service. Tens of thousands more are licensed to follow from SpaceX and other companies such as Amazon in the coming years.
So far, astronomers and advocacy groups like Barentine’s have focused their worries on how the bright trails of individual satellites overhead disrupt naked-eye observers and swamp more sensitive astronomical observations. In response, SpaceX engineers have managed to dim their subsequent satellites to about one-quarter of the brightness of the first prototypes.
But Miroslav Kocifaj, an astronomer at the Slovak Academy of Sciences, had a different concern. He wondered whether the collective cloud of satellites and debris above Earth might scatter light back into the atmosphere more generally. Even if the individual objects aren’t visible, could their presence add an additional background glow to the night sky in a way that would wash out the faintest reaches of the cosmos?
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