SpaceX’s plans to provide global broadband Internet coverage to millions across the world is one step closer to becoming a reality thanks to its latest, less reflective “VisorSat” Starlink satellites.
However, not everyone seems to be happy about the potential of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites, especially astronomers and scientists, whose job it is to scan the skies for distant objects in our solar system and beyond. Many astronomers and scientists have complained about how bright current Starlink satellites are, making observations from Earth extremely difficult, according to Slash Gear.
“If there are lots and lots of bright moving objects in the sky, it tremendously complicates our job. It potentially threatens the science of astronomy itself,” astronomer James Lowenthal told The New York Times.
To try and remedy this issue, SpaceX has developed the VisorSat satellites which feature specially designed visors that will deploy after launch to block sunlight from reflecting off the surfaces of the satellite.
According to astronomer Jonathan McDowell, “If you figure out where to put the visors, you should be able to really cut down those reflections. And that will make the satellites no longer naked-eye objects, which is good.”
Despite the newly developed VisorSat satellites, astronomers still fear that they will interfere with data by turning up as false stars. McDowell explained that it only takes a couple of seconds for a Starlink satellite to cross a telescope’s field of view.
While this may sound like a short amount of time, astronomers use extremely long exposures with their cameras, meaning in that couple of seconds the entire 10 to 15-minute exposure can be ruined. Couple that with the fact that SpaceX plans on eventually launching over 42,000 Satellites, you can see how this would become a problem.