Are SpaceX Starlink satellites ruining the night sky?
What the Future
Welcome to What The Future.
In the latest edition of Who's Pissed at Elon Musk this week, astronomers are none too happy with the SpaceX CEO.
So how did Musk manage to irk some of the nerdiest of the nerds?
With his Starlink Project.
Its goal is to beam high-speed Internet all over the world from orbiting satellites.
Ignition, liftoff.>> Last week Space X launched its first batch of starling satellites.
Each is equipped with a solar array that captures and reflects sunlight making them pretty damn bright sometimes.
As you can see in this video captured by a satellite tracker about a day after launch.
Pretty cool, right?
Well, right now, there's just 60 satellites moving into their strategic positions, but the Starlink project aims to have as many 12,000 of them up there when the project is finished.
That would triple the total number of satellites orbiting the Earth.
Now, try to imagine what that might do to the night sky.
Now try to imagine you make a living studying the night sky.
You might not be quite a star struck at the idea of thousands of man made satellites cluttering your workspace.
It didn't take long for astronomers to start firing up gripes on Twitter, and one scientist estimated that if and when all 12000 are in place hundreds could be visible at any given moment Musk was quick to defend Starlink, noting how it's potentially helping billions of economically disadvantaged people.
And for his part, he did say he's asked the Starlink team to reduce the amount of light the satellites reflect.
But believe it or not, some scientists think this could even be putting us in physical danger.
All those observatories and telescopes designed to specifically track hazardous asteroids weren't exactly built with such a cluttered sky in mind.
It is worth pointing out that the satellites aren't designed to stay in the sky forever.
They're built to fall back to earth after about five years of service, burning up and reentry.
Still, satellites already pose a huge problem for astronomers.
The bright surfaces obstruct the view when they're studying the cosmos from the ground based TV And those starling satellites will have to be accounted for when scientists are studying their images.
Also worth noting, some astronomers aren't totally freaking out, Jonathan McDowell with a Harvard Smithsonian Center for astrophysics Said the satellites are brighter than we had expected, but somewhat less of a sky is on fire problem.
Now, what about the actual star link internet service?
SpaceX just launched a new star link website that says it could begin offering service in parts of the US and Canada as early as this year.
That's if it can complete at least six dedicated Starling launches in 2019.
With 60 satellites each looking beyond that goal.
SpaceX has said it will be able to cover the world with broadband Internet with as few as 24 launches.
That's it for this week.
I'm Andy Altman.
I'll see you in the future.
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