Look! Up in the sky! Itâs a bird! Itâs a plane! Itâs hundreds of Elon Musk Satellites cluttering up the galaxy.
A plethora of massive internet satellites launched by eco-friendly billionaire Elon Musk are swirling overhead â and astronomers are trying mightily to figure out how to deal with the sunâs glaring reflection off those man-made orbiters.
âThereâs almost no place in the sky that you wonât see a satellite going by,â the American Astronomical Societyâs Rick Feinberg told The Post.
Already, the trails from these satellite necklaces have stained images taken by world-class telescopes. And skygazers are worried about the long-lasting effects on scientific research â especially with Muskâs SpaceX, Amazon chief Jeff Bezosâ Project Kuiper and OneWeb, a venture co-owned by the British government and Indian mobile giant Bharti Global, planning to launch tens of thousands of satellites over the next few years.
Amazonâs 3,236 satellites arenât off the ground yet and OneWeb has only about 70 out of 700 orbiting right now, but SpaceX already has 750 up and expects to eventually operate more than 40,000. SpaceX, which delayed a mission Friday because of the weather, didnât respond to a request for comment.
âThere is no way to avoid an impact of the Elon Musk Satellites on ground-based astronomy,â said astronomer Jeff Hall, the director of Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. âEven if satellites are invisible to the unaided eye, they are blindingly bright to modern research telescopes.â
A particular worry is what the satellites will do to a decade-long project slated to start in 2022 by the Vera C. Rubin Observatory in Chile. The 27-foot telescope, being built by the National Science Foundation and the Energy Department, will be coupled to a gigantic digital camera that takes snapshots of the heavens every three days.
âItâs like making a 10-year movie of the night sky,âFeinberg said. âItâll be sweeping the sky â looking for asteroids, looking for supernovas, basically mapping the universe.â
The telescopeâs camera field is sure to capture satellite trails in part of every picture â and the pictures will be worthless if the streaks are too bright, Feinberg said.
Shortly after SpaceXâs first satellite mission, astronomers went to the company â and found a helping hand, Hall told The Post.
First, engineers darkened parts of the satellites, which made the reflection fainter but not as faint as astronomers had hoped. Then, they installed visors to block sunlight from reaching the satellites and reflecting to the ground, he explained. Now, theyâre experimenting with the satellitesâ orientation, which should make them invisible to the naked eye at lower orbits and fairly faint at higher ones.
âThe higher the satellite, the longer it takes for the sun to set on it,â Feinberg said. âIt might literally be visible all night long.â
Astronomers, too, are brainstorming on how they can minimize the impact of the satellites. For example, Feinberg said, one suggestion is making more orbital information available in real time so researchers can simply avoid the satellites. Another is a computer program that essentially wipes out the trails from photos.
And yet, despite all the headaches, astronomers are pushing forward. Theyâve had setbacks before, like when NASAâs Hubble space telescope had a big failure.
âWeâve been through hell,â Feinberg told The Post, âand weâve always found a way to bounce back.â
Globally, women make up around 25â¯percent of the workforce in the aerospace industry. In an effort to carry out its
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SpaceX, Elon Musk, Astronomy, Artificial satellite
World news – CA – Elon Musk Satellites Block Astronomers View Of The Sky