SpaceX Starlink satellites are causing light pollution

Posted on Wednesday, May 29 2019 @ 12:34 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
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Last week, SpaceX deployed its first 60 Starlink satellites. These are the first of many thousands of very low-Earth orbit satellites, which are intended to provide very fast Internet connectivity all around the globe, with minimal latency.

But one unexpected drawback is literary seen; the satellites reflect sunlight and this causes a new form of light pollution. The problem should lessen once the satellites deploy their solar panels, but CNET reports astronomers expect the Starlink satellites will still have an apparent magnitude of 5, versus a magnitude of 2 at this moment. This means they will still remain visible to the human eye.

Due to the low number of satellites, this is not a huge issue, but as the number grows, it becomes a concern. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk promised he would sent a note to the Starlink team to look at ways to reduce the satellites' albedo:
Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO, jumped to the defense of his satellite system and noted on Twitter how "potentially helping billions of economically disadvantaged people is the greater good," while making it clear that SpaceX plans to limit Starlink's effects on astronomy. "We care a great deal about science," Musk tweeted. He said he's sent a note to the Starlink team to reduce albedo -- that is, the amount of light the satellites reflect.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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