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Mon Nov 25, 2019, 03:19 PM

Flagship observatory faces major interference from private companies' satellites

Disruption will hamper efforts to unlock secrets of universe, say scientists

Ian Sample Science editor
Fri 22 Nov 2019 06.37 EST Last modified on Sun 24 Nov 2019 09.45 EST

A flagship observatory that will map the heavens in spectacular detail and search the skies for asteroids on a collision course with Earth faces serious disruption from a new wave of satellites bound for space, the Guardian has learned.

Astronomers on the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, a state-of-the-art observatory due to open in Chile next year, have discovered that its views of the night sky will be marred by thousands of highly reflective communications satellites being launched by SpaceX, Amazon and other firms.

Researchers on the LSST ran simulations to assess how the telescope would be affected by proposed launches over a decade of planned observations. They found that in some scenarios, almost every image the telescope takes will be spoiled by at least one bright streak produced by satellites passing overhead.

The scientists modelled the impact of companies launching 50,000 internet satellites into low Earth orbits over the next decade, in line with stated aims. The greatest disruption was to twilight observations, which are crucial for some areas of astronomy, and useful for spotting Earth-bound asteroids coming from the direction of the sun.

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The LSST has been described as the ‘biggest, fastest, meanest survey telescope’. Photograph: LSST Project/NSF/Aura


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Reply Flagship observatory faces major interference from private companies' satellites (Original post)
Judi Lynn Nov 25 OP
Red Mountain Nov 25 #1
Igel Nov 25 #2

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon Nov 25, 2019, 07:43 PM

1. Earth orbit would be a better investment

I'd guess Elon might help out.

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Response to Red Mountain (Reply #1)

Mon Nov 25, 2019, 10:53 PM

2. He's a big part of the problem.

Even the few Starlink satellites up there have been a problem for some telescopes.

And because of a convenient software bug his team didn't move alter one of his satellite's orbits when it was heading for another. The requirement was for *his* satellite to change course, and instead the other satellite had to move to accommodate the wonderfully awesome bearer of buggy software from the equally buggy billionaire.

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