In the past, astronomers enjoyed the ability to observe the night sky without disturbances as they attempted to gather new data or observe distant objects. However, this is no longer the case as huge constellations of internet satellites have been launched in recent years.
A new report elaborated by a team of astronomers has noted that while the impact of satellite megaconstellations appears to be negligible at first sight, the consequences could be quite noticeable in the long run. Other researchers have already complained in the past that the satellites can compromise crucial observation surveys.
Filling the sky
More than 10,000 objects have been launched into the low Earth orbit since the first satellite the space age began. At this point, 2,500 are fully operational, with many of them being essential for a variety of conveniences, including GPS and radio signals, weather reports, and more.
The way in which the increased number of satellites can affect scientific endeavors is determined by a large number of factors, including the type and aim of the observations that are being made, the ability to ask or remove satellite trays, and the number and brightness of intrusive satellites.
A major issue is posed by satellite trails, which can compromise observations made with telescopes that inspect large zones of the sky in both infrared and visible light. Observation programs that use data collected during twilight hours are also affected by the way in which the satellites shine.
It is worth noting that satellites placed in an orbit that is lower than 370 kilometers will not have a major negative impact. The Starlink satellites launched by SpaceX fall under this category as they travel around Earth at an altitude of 340 kilometers.
The report also includes advice that can be used by companies to minimize the potential negative impact of satellite constellations.