Starlink satellites light pollution to be fixed

Space Science

A train of SpaceX Starlink satellites are visible in the night sky in this still from a video captured by satellite tracker Marco Langbroek in Leiden, the Netherlands on May 24, 2019, just one day after SpaceX launched 60 of the Starlink internet communications satellites into orbit.
(Image: © Marco Langbroek via SatTrackBlog)

MYSTERY WIRE — By the end of 2019, many sky watchers were noticing a strange phenomenon happening in the night sky. Often, people were seeing a line of lights soaring across the sky in a straight line. This led to many reports of people seeing UFOs.

It turns out though, there was a very simple answer as to what was being seen. It was Starlink satellites in low Earth orbit. Elon Musk’s company, SpaceX, has been launching these small satellites in groups of 60 at a time.

These cubesats, as they are known, should provide sufficient bandwidth to carry up to 50% of all backhaul communications traffic, and up to 10% of local Internet traffic, in high-density cities according to SpaceX.

According to Space.com there are already 422 Starlink satellites in orbit. And in a recent article on dpreview.com it stated, With the Starlink 6 satellite launch last week, SpaceX now has 420 of these small satellites in orbit. The company plans to launch a minimum of 12,000 satellites over the coming months, though the figure may exceed 30,000 in the long run.

An unforseen effect of this many objects in low Earth orbit was the reflection from the sun during orbit raise. Elon Musk has said SpaceX is working on a way to fix this light pollution issue.

One way is a sun shade on the solar reflectors, something that will already be in place on future launches. Musk has said the sun shades will be made of a dark foam material that should not affect radio transmissions.

If you want to see the small cubesats flying in a line across the sky there are several sites tracking them and will help you find the best time and location where you can see them.

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