Washington (AFP) – It looked like a scene from a sci-fi blockbuster: an astronomer in the Netherlands captured recordings of a train of brightly lit SpaceX satellites rising through the night sky this weekend, amazing documentaries across the globe.
The launch was tracked around the world and it soon became clear that the satellites were visible to the naked eye: a new headache for researchers who have already had to find solutions to handle objects that cut their images deep space.
"People made extrapolations that if many of the satellites in these new megacellations had that kind of brightness, so in 20 years or less, for a good deal of night all over the world, the human eye would see more satellites than stars," Bill Keel, an astronomer at the University of Alabama, told AFP.
The brightness of the satellites has since diminished as their orientation is stabilized, and they have continued their increase to their final circuits at a height of 550 kilometers.
But it has not completely rejected the researchers' concerns that are concerned about what will happen next time.
Elon Musk's SpaceX is just one of several companies seeking to enter the Internet sector with sophisticated space.
To put it in context, there are currently 2,100 active satellites orbiting our planet, according to the Satellite Industry Association.
If an additional 12,000 is added by SpaceX alone "It will be hundreds across the horizon at any time," Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard Smithsonian Astrophysics Center told AFP and added that the problem would worsen at certain times of the year and some points in the night.
"So it will certainly be dramatic in the night sky if you are far away from the city and you have a nice dark area; and it will certainly cause problems for some forms of professional astronomical observation."
– The Musk's Puzzle –
Mercury Musk responded to the Twitter Conflict with Conflicting Messages and promised to explore the possibilities of reducing the satellites & # 39; reflexivity, but also say that they would have "0% influence on progress in astronomy" and that the telescopes still had to be moved into space.
He also claimed the work of giving "billions of economically disadvantaged people" high-speed Internet access through his network "is the greater good."
Keel said he was happy that Musk had offered to look at ways to reduce the reflectivity of future satellites, but questioned why the problem had not been addressed before.
If optical astronomers are concerned, then their radio astronomy colleagues relying on the electromagnetic waves emitted by celestial objects to investigate phenomena such as the first image of the black hole discovered last month is "in near despair" "he added.
Satellite operators are notorious for not doing enough to protect their "side missions" which may interfere with the observation bands that radio astronomers appear.
"There is every reason to join our radio astronomer colleagues to call a" before "answer," Keel said.
"It not only protects our professional interests but also protects the night sky for humanity".