The scientific community expresses concerns about the initiative of Elon Musk to launch thousands of satellites into low Earth orbit to provide global Internet satellite communications. In a recent speech, the head of SpaceX and Tesla tried to explain why astronomers have nothing to worry about.
What bothers scientists
During his speech at the Satellite 2020 conference in Washington, Elon Musk said that their satellites have zero effect on astronomical discoveries. But if this ever changes, he promised to take appropriate measures.
Since May last year, SpaceX launched into space about 300 Starlink satellites from the planned 42,000. However, this is already enough for astronomers to notice them during space observations.
What Elon Musk Says About This
However, the billionaire also had an explanation for these statements. According to him, some satellites could be seen only due to the fact that they simply did not have time to gain the desired height.
“Now that the satellites are indeed in orbit, I would be amazed if someone could tell me where they are all located. I have not met a single person who could tell me where they are all. I mean, this is not such a big problem”,
said Elon Musk.
Despite all the claims that satellites have no influence on the process of observing space, in January this year, SpaceX began to test the reflective coating, which would make the devices less noticeable. Musk also confirmed that they are conducting various experiments, including painting antennas black instead of white and working on a special canopy so that the satellites reflect less light.
What do astronomers say?
Dave Clements, an astronomer at Imperial College London, is convinced that if Elon Musk is really concerned about the problem of observing space, then he must stop launching his satellites until a working way is found to hide them from telescopes. According to him, SpaceX ignores the fact that Starlink satellites can “blind” radio telescopes.