Close space can be lost

The impressive entry of Elon Musk’s satellites falling from orbit due to a cosmic storm into the atmosphere was captured on video from Earth. The film was shot by a camera owned by the Society of Astronomers in Puerto Rico.

The recent launch of Starlink satellites showed their instability for various cosmic phenomena. In fact, the vehicles are first launched in a low orbit of about 200 kilometers. And then slowly, on their own, they rise higher, to the point of their permanent work. But this time a geomagnetic storm disrupted the process. It caused the earth’s atmosphere to expand. Which eventually put the satellites out of action. In total, out of 49 launched units, Elon Musk’s companies lost forty.

Stanislav Korotkiy, scientific director of the Ka-Dar Observatory, director of the Astrovert Scientific Travel Club, says that the satellites once at an altitude of 200 km experienced very high resistance, as the atmosphere rose, expanded and the density increased by almost one and a half times. And spacecraft due to friction fell back to earth. And they burned down.

The case of four dozen satellites, although it is a living sight, but astronomers would like to observe such events less often. And in general – to prevent Musk devices from entering their telescopes. Recently, researchers from the Caltech Observatory assessed the damage to celestial images from Starlink’s orbital constellation.

Satellites enter the image and destroy the images. In the picture, for example, the Andromeda galaxy is crossed out by a white line – at the time of filming, the spacecraft Starlink flew by. We can say – not critically. How do you like this picture? Several minutes of observation of the comet were bombarded by hundreds of Musk satellites.

Astronomers have estimated that from November 2019 to September 2021, more than five thousand satellite bands appeared in the images. If the tracks two years ago affected less than one percent of the images, now every fifth image is damaged. Elon Musk heard about the problem, but has not yet solved it.

“One or one and a half years ago, Elon Musk promised to listen to the views of astrophysicists and reduce the brightness of satellites. He had to put some kind of visor that reduced the amount of sunlight that falls on the satellite’s surface. And consequently reflected from its surface. were set, the brightness decreased slightly, but it still did not solve this problem in absolute terms, “Korotkiy continues.

So far, less than 2,000 Starlink satellites orbit the earth. In a few years, Musk wants to put 12,000 in different courses. But this is not the limit, the company plans to send 42,000 vehicles into space. NASA considered that the construction of the Starlink constellation in low orbit around the Earth was a threat to the ISS. U.S. experts say Musk’s companies must prove the vehicles’ ability to automatically avoid collisions.

In the immediate area it is already so crowded. The problem of space debris is acute. Researchers fear the emergence of the Kessler effect. The collision of two sufficiently large objects will lead to the emergence of a large number of new fragments. They will continue to clash with each other. And at some point, the chain reaction can not be stopped.

Mankind risks losing close space for all research.


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