A VIDEO from Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite network has stunned viewers as scientists warned of the little-known risks to the night sky.
From Earth’s perspective, a maximum of around 9,000 stars and around 5,000 Starlink satellites can be seen in the sky (as of August).
The orange dots represent Starlink satellites.
Accordingly new researchLow-frequency radio waves penetrate the sky and affect the ability of scientists to conduct astronomical observations.
According to comments on Musk’s social media platform X (formerly Twitter), sky watchers fear that there will soon be more satellites than stars.
A spectator shouted Video“depressing,” before adding, “Literally in just a few years they will outnumber the stars themselves.”
“Gotta love the lack of control that allows megalomaniacs to ruin the planet for everyone.”
Another added: “I don’t remember voting for Musk as space tsar!”
“This is just a start, because do it again with China, India and other billionaire space cowboys.”
However, Dr. Kit Chapman, a science historian and lecturer at Falmouth University, was quick to point out that these orange dots were not to scale.
“A lot can be said about the science of space: space debris, material selection, the chemistry of satellites, etc.,” he said tweeted.
“But ‘Oh my God, this little animation shows space is so crowded’… Do they honestly think every satellite is the size of Greater London?”
“For those wondering, a Starlink satellite is about the size of a dinner table (or, for wrestling fans, the height and weight of Andre the Giant).
“Space is not crowded. We humans are really bad at understanding scale and numbers.”
Another spectator wrote The video wasn’t particularly “impressive or scary,” but it made it clear that Starlink would contribute significantly to space debris.
“It appears Starlink satellites are designed to deorbit, but they risk collisions and the creation of more debris,” they tweeted.
“Cleaning of low-Earth orbit is still in the experimental stage…”
A looming problem
Space debris, or space junk, is anything left behind by humans that is stuck in Earth’s orbit – be it a piece of a dead satellite or a smear of paint chipped off a rocket.
Objects in Earth’s orbit move at about 15,000 miles per hour – fast enough that a small part colliding with a satellite or spacecraft could cause serious damage.
The International Space Station frequently conducts maneuvering missions to avoid pieces of space debris.
But as the global space industry opens up to billionaire entrepreneurs like Musk, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, activity in Earth’s orbit has skyrocketed.
With increased activity comes more debris.
Scientists don’t just fear that the growing number of satellites in orbit will change the landscape of the night sky.
But they are also afraid of an extreme collision event, as NASA scientist Donald Kessler suggested in 1978.
Read more at the Scottish Sun
He said if there was too much space junk in orbit, a chain reaction could occur.
In this case, more objects collide, creating new space debris, to the point where Earth orbit becomes unusable.
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