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Elon Musk's star satellites are already causing headaches for astronomers

Astronomers at the Chilean observatory were roughly interrupted earlier this week when the SpaceX satellite, consisting of 60 Starlink satellites, drifted overhead, which scientists would probably have to accept as the new normal.

neglected in in orbit on November 11, the Starlink subcompact train took five minutes to go through the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, according to tweet from astronomer Clara Martinez-Vazquez.

“Wow !! I'm shocked !!” Martines-Vasquez tweeted. “A huge number of Starlink satellites crossed our sky tonight [Cerro Tololo]Our December [Dark Energy Camera] 19 of them were seriously affected by the impact! ", She added:" Rather depressing … Is not cool! "

In response to this tweet, astronomer Cliff Johnson, a member of the CIERA Postdoc team and researcher in the field of astronomy in the northwest, tweeted A view of corrupted data showing an array of satellite paths scattered across a space image.

Astronomers collected data using the DECam tool, a high-performance wide-format scanner on the CTIO Blanco 4-telescope meter as part DELVE poll, which is currently mapping the outer borders of the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds and also a significant portion of the southern sky at optical wavelengths. The main objectives of the project are the study of the stellar halo around the Magellanic Clouds and the discovery of new dwarf galaxies in orbit around the Clouds or the nearby Milky Way.

Starlink-DECam stained frame showing satellite tracks through the field of view.
Form: Clara Martinez-Vazquez, Cliff Johnson, CTIO / AURA / NSF

But this study was accented how the Starlink train went overhead during the early morning of Mondaat November 18th

“In this case, satellite tracks affected 1 out of about 40 images that we took during our midnight observations,” Johnson said. said Gizmodo in the email. “And in the case of this single exposure, the footprints affected a maximum of 15 percent of the image. In addition to the image itself, we also had to be careful, since the image affected by the footprints also affected our shooting operations due to the large number of image artifacts affecting our quality.control measurements. "

On the whole, however, “these numbers usually show that the impact on our science was more on the level of irritation than on total destruction,” he wrote.However, "this may only be the beginning of problems for astronomers, so I believe that community reaction and anxiety are justified." If the estimated sizes of these satellite mega constellations, which are projected to include over tens of thousands of individual elements, in reality, “this could significantly affect our observational data,” Johnson said.

similar thing happened earlier this year after the first batch of 60 Starlink satellites was delivered to orbit, with some people even believing that they were UFOs. Alarmed by the first batch of Starlink satellites, the American Astronomical Society released a warningSaying that mega constellations can threaten scientific observations of space.

The effect of a train in which satellites are neatly arranged in bright temporary line. In the end, small satellites disperse and enter their unique orbits in a process that takes several weeks. However, the number of objects in space – dispersed or not – is about to experience a sharp jump.

In the current form, the effects of these satellite trains “remain manageable,” and “the worst effects are temporary,” Johnson told Gizmodo.

“I agree with the tone of recent IAS Statement this requires an immediate, meaningful discussion between regulators, satellite suppliers and astronomers in order to highlight ways that can minimize impacts on astronomy – not only optical but also radio astronomy – and eliminate the worstscenarios of unlimited launches and uncontrolled deployments, ”said Johnson Gizmodo.

In response to these concerns, SpaceX said this. takes steps to color the foundation Starlink satellites the blackto minimize them brightness. experts not convinced this will work because some observatories use ultra-sensitive instruments to detect even the weakest objects.

South Carolinalikely, Get used to such violations, as regulatory authorities do not enjoy empathy. SpaceX has already received approval from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch 12,000 small Starlink satellites, and in October private space firm led by Elon Musks asked FCC for permission to launch another 30,000 satellites in addition to this by the mid-2020s. These satellite trains, as well as the associated megast constellations, will soon become a common fixture of the night sky, and this does not include Constellations to be created by SpaceX rivals, including networks offered by OneWeb, Telsat, and Amazon.

Since starry night is already obscured by the light pollution of our cities, it seems that an unimpeded glance into space could soon slip away from astronomers.

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