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Orbiting satellites could collide, astronomers warn

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Orbiting satellites could collide, astronomers warn

Since 2019, when SpaceX began launching its fleet of Starlink satellites, the number of objects in low Earth orbit has more than doubled. For this reason, astronomers have warned that increasing light pollution could pose a threat.

There are already thousands of Starlink satellites and new constellations are set to be launched in the next few years, further congesting the orbit at an altitude of around 2,000 kilometres. With each new object added, the greater the chances of a collision that will generate debris and a chain effect. As more collisions occur, the level of space junk that reflects sunlight back to Earth also increases.

Light pollution in orbit, a growing problem

Several articles published by astronomers in the journal Community Nature they discussed how light pollution from thousands of satellites could affect the future of sky observations.

In one of the texts, the researchers explain how light pollution can cause financial and scientific damage. One example is that the darkest part of the night sky will become about 7.5% brighter over the next decade for the Vera Rubin Observatory under construction in Chile.

A clearer sky caused by light pollution means fewer observations of the sky. About 7.5% fewer stars cannot be seen from the Observatory. At the same time, this would cost $21.8 million in additional research time.

Furthermore, the astronomers add that many astronomical events will never be able to be observed by humans due to the growing number of satellites in orbit. But another study points out that current measurements of light pollution are underestimating the phenomenon.

Astronomers are calling for drastic limitations on the expansion of satellites in orbit and the light pollution they cause. The measures are necessary, as the companies of the mega constellations will not do it without being forced, given the economic interest of the area.

The post Orbiting satellites can collide and astronomers make a warning that appeared earlier on Olhar Digital.

Source: Olhar Digital

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