Low Earth Orbit Satellites

During the past two years, the number of satellites circling the earth has increased from 2,000 to 4,800, and a flood of new projects has brought the number of operating, approved, and proposed satellites to at least 441,449. And that number only includes low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellites that will reside in the ionosphere.

BRIGHTENING THE NIGHT SKY
Scientists have already begun to publish papers analyzing the effect all these satellites will have, not only on astronomy, but on the appearance of the night sky and the visibility of the stars to everyone on earth. An article published online on March 29, 2021 in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society by scientists in Slovakia, Spain and the United States is titled “The proliferation of space objects is a rapidly increasing source of artificial night sky brightness.” The scattering of sunlight from all of the objects in space, wrote the authors, is causing a “new skyglow” during the beginning and end of each night that has already brightened the natural night sky by about 10 percent. The authors are concerned that “the additional contribution of the new satellite mega-constellations” would ruin the night sky to a much greater extent. A group of Canadian astronomers have an article in the January 2022 issue of The Astronomical Journal. “Megaconstellations of thousands to tens of thousands of artificial satellites (satcons) are rapidly being developed and launched,” they write. “These satcons will have negative consequences for observational astronomy research, and are poised to drastically interfere with naked-eye stargazing worldwide.”

They analyzed what the effect on astronomy will be if 65,000 new low orbit  satellites are launched. At 40 degrees latitude (mid-United States; Mediterranean; mid-China; Japan; Buenos Aires; New Zealand), say these authors, more than 1,000 of these satellites will be sunlit and visible in the sky in the summer even at midnight. At higher latitudes (northern U.S.; Canada; most of Europe; Russia), thousands of these satellites will be visible all night long. Another paper, titled Report on Mega-Constellations to the Government of Canada and the Canadian Space Agency, was commissioned by the Canadian Astronomical Society and submitted to the Canadian government on March 31, 2021. It is a moving document.

These astronomers write:

“In ancient times, humans everywhere in the world had access to completely dark skies. In stark contrast, today 80% of North Americans cannot see the Milky Way from where they live because of light pollution. The lack of darkness that many people now experience due to urban light pollution has been linked to many physical and mental health issues, both in humans and wildlife. But there are still pockets of darkness where urban-dwellers can escape the light pollution and experience skies nearly as dark as those seen by our ancestors. Unfortunately, light pollution from satellites will be a global phenomenon — there will be nowhere left on Earth to experience skies free from bright satellites in orbit. “Anyone who has ever spent time in a truly dark place staring up at the stars understands the powerful feeling of connection and insignificance this act inspires.
Our lives, our worries, even our entire planet seem so inconsequential on these scales — a feeling that has shaped literature, art, and culture around the globe. Seeing the night sky makes it immediately obvious that we are part of a vast and wondrous universe full of countless stars… Connecting to the sky is part of our humanity, and everyone in the world is in very real danger of losing that…“With the naked eye, stargazing from a dark-sky location allows you to see about 4,500 stars… Once Starlink approaches 12,000 satellites in orbit, most people in Canada will see more satellites than stars in the sky.”

Download PDF by Arthur Firstenberg: Low-Earth-Orbit-Satellites

Source: Cellphone Task Force

 

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