Technology VIDEO. Starlink satellite pollution worries astronomers

VIDEO. Starlink satellite pollution worries astronomers


Video length: 4 min.


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These white dots are not UFOs, they are satellites. And with the Starlink project, Elon Musk and SpaceX plan to place 40,000 in orbit 400 km above our heads. Light pollution that worries astronomers. Meanwhile, in space …

Strange dots in the sky. No, they are not UFOs but a “train of satellites”. They are regularly put into orbit by the company SpaceX, of billionaire Elon Musk. This is the Starlink project which promises access to high speed Internet anywhere in the world. “Starlink is what is called a mega-constellation, a mega-fleet of satellites that will orbit the Earth to bring telecommunications all over the world, and when we say mega-constellation, it’s about 40 000 satellites“, explains astrophysicist Miguel Montargès.

Since 2018, Starlink has already put more than 1,700 satellites into orbit, in clusters of 60. The goal is 12,000 satellites by 2025, and more than 40,000 eventually. And that doesn’t really make astronomers happy. “Starlink has completely changed that. Already, they are quite low, with a very bright solar panel. (…) Then, going from 5,000 satellites to 40,000, that makes a mesh of satellites around the Earth, a shell of satellites which means that, regardless of the field that we are going to observe, we will have trails of satellites that will disfigure our images and prevent us from doing our science“, explains Miguel Montargès.

There are also risks of collision. Currently, Starlink satellites are believed to be involved in half of the collision threats in space. “A little over a year ago, Starlink satellites that had gotten out of hand were at risk of colliding with the European Space Agency’s Aéolus satellite which had been launched to study the winds on the surface of the globe.“, says Miguel Montargès.

Worldwide, more than 100,000 people have already purchased a Starlink terminal for the sum of $ 499.

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