Ah, Starlink, the space internet service brought to you by SpaceX. It’s like Elon Musk looked at the stars and said, “You know what would be cool? A whole bunch of shiny objects floating around up there.”
But seriously, Starlink is a constellation of satellites designed to provide high-speed internet access to remote and underserved areas. And with over 1,500 satellites currently in orbit, it’s safe to say that SpaceX is really reaching for the stars.
Some people have expressed concerns about the potential impact of all these satellites on astronomy, but SpaceX assures us that they’re working on ways to reduce the brightness of the satellites and minimize their impact on stargazing.
More and more satellites
A recent study led by Sandor Kruk from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics that Gizmodo tells us about found that the number of satellite streaks on Hubble images has increased from 3.7% to 5.9% from 2009 to 2021, with the rise in the number of Starlink and OneWeb satellites in orbit being the main cause.
The research used deep learning algorithms to identify images with satellite streaks from over 100,000 Hubble images contributed by over 10,000 citizen scientists working on the Hubble Asteroid Hunter project. The study warns that with the growing number of artificial satellites planned in the coming years, the issue of satellite streaks will need further close monitoring.
Jonathan McDowelll from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics stated for the New York Times:
We’re going to be living with this problem. And astronomy will be impacted,
There will be science that can’t be done. There will be science that’s significantly more expensive to do. There will be things that we miss.
So, if you’re looking for a way to connect to the internet from the middle of nowhere, or if you just want to see a bunch of bright lights in the night sky, Starlink might be the way to go.