Elon Musk's 12,000 satellite Starlink 'train' looks amazing, but astronomers are concerned it could create a dangerous amount of debris

Business Insider | 5/28/2019 | ScienceAlert
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Last week SpaceX launched 60 Starlink telecommunication satellites — the first major launch of its ambitious fleet of up to 12,000 satellites.

The number of satellites could add to the increasing amount of potentially harmful debris in the atmosphere.

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Last week SpaceX launched 60 Starlink telecommunication satellites— the first major launch of its ambitious fleet of up to 12,000 satellites, with the goal to eventually create ultra-fast internet services around the world.

Launch - Kg - Pound - Hitch - Video

The launch of the 227 kg (500 pound) satellites went off without a hitch, but a spectacular video of the 'train' of satellites above the Netherlands — taken by archaeologist and amateur astronomer Marco Langbroek— has sparked a discussion about the potential problems this Starlink fleet could cause in the night sky.

The video below is not what the Starlink satellites will look like when they have been fully deployed, as this video was taken less than 24 hours after launch.

Space - Com - Satellites - Eye - Disperse

According to Space.com, the satellites are not quite bright enough to be visible to the naked eye, and once they further disperse, they should get slightly dimmer again.

But naked eye is not everything when it comes to the needs of astronomers.

Satellites - Telescopes - Explains - Swinburne - University

Existing satellites are already tricky for ground-based telescopes to deal with, explains Swinburne University astronomer Alan Duffy, who is also the lead scientist of the Royal Institution of Australia.

"Current satellites are a problem but astronomers have developed clever techniques for removing them," Duffy told ScienceAlert.

Read - SpaceX - Rocket - Starlink - Satellites

Read more:SpaceX launched a rocket carrying 60 Starlink satellites tonight in a global high-speed internet gambit. Watch the rocket lift off and deploy its payload live.

"Optical telescopes like Pan-STARRS automatically mask the passing satellites from images, while with radio telescopes like ASKAP in Western Australia we scan the sky in the frequency gaps between otherwise blindingly bright satellite navigation signals like GPS."

According...
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