Will the new giant reflective satellites obliterate the night skies of the three cities?
The largest satellite ever was launched into space last Saturday by a SpaceX rocket and some scientists are worried about it. The satellite is called BlueWalker 3 and it is built by the Texas company AST SpaceMobile. Some scientists believe that when the reflective array of satellites is extended, it could be the brightest thing in the night sky. Here’s why they think it’s a problem.
According to Universe Today, “The satellite will feature a 64-meter (8 meters or ~24 feet) square reflective antenna when deployed. For context, the Echo-1 Inflatable Sphere launched by the United States in 1960 was only slightly larger (30 meters in diameter) and was easily visible to the naked eye at around magnitude 0.” The plan is to “test a demonstrator for the company’s Larger BlueBird satellite constellation, which will field 110 satellites in low Earth orbit for global coverage.”
“The BlueWalker satellite will be as bright as the star Vega near zenith at dusk,” according to an interview with Connie Walker on gizmodo. The real problem comes when the network of 110 satellites are installed, reflecting a large amount of light pollution on their coverage area. To identify the severity of this threat, NSF’s NOIRLab and the International Astronomical Union’s (IAU) Center for the Protection of Dark and Calm Skies from Satellite Constellation Interference have called on astronomers around the world to conduct observations. of the brightness of the satellite once it is in orbit” according to the story.
A quote from history says it best. “Advances in technology are ushering in an exciting era for our connectivity, so hopefully this doesn’t come at the expense of our ability to look at celestial objects and collect valuable data about the universe.”