Astronomers are happy with SpaceX’s reaction to complaints that their project of Starlink satellites is interfering with sky visibility. They hope that they will rectify the problem so that scientists can resume with sky observations.
SpaceX assures that they are developing a plan to ensure that the satellites do not reflect light on the earth’s surface. They have hope that they will be able to tackle the complaints raised by the astronomers before the launch of the next set of constellations of satellites. This SpaceX’s mega-constellations program is to ensure that they do more research with the satellites in the lower earth orbit.
James Lowenthal, an astronomer at Smith College in Massachusetts, says that they did not anticipate that these satellites would reflect light to the earth. He adds that they were unaware of the enormity of these constellations. This joining of satellites to form a constellation results in an increase in the surface area on which light hits and reflects earth.
Astronomers say that the light reflection interferes with the scientists using telescopes to conduct observations. They confirm that this problem is noticeable, especially after the formation of the Starlink satellite constellation. Their concern is that these satellites are here to stay and that the only solution is to depend on SpaceX’s quick resolution before further satellite deployment. Astronomers argue that the earth-based scientists will not be able to easily observe the sky unless they rely on these satellites, especially the giant James Webb Space Telescope.
Lowenthal has been touring SpaceX regularly for these concerns. He aims to understand how the firm is going to dim their satellites and allow astronomers to observe the space without interferent satellites. Lowenthal is sure that halting the launch of satellites to the low earth orbit is out of the question because they have permission to do so.
To retaliate, SpaceX is questioning the astronomers on how their satellites are interfering with their equipment and sensors. After long debates and interviews, SpaceX is preparing a fleet of satellites already in space to help solve this inherent quagmire.
SpaceX spokesperson says that they are practically minimizing the brightness of their Starlink constellation while exploring ways to cover the tracks left by the orbiting satellites. However, the firm says that it is not that easy to solve the problem hoping for more time to conduct outside space research and ground research.
Finally, SpaceX says that the DarkSat program was one of their strategies to understand how to minimize light reflection. Lowenthal reports that this program was a success, though with some limitations. The challenge with the program was the dark covering over the satellite absorbs heat.