SpaceX Is Upgrading Starlink Satellites To Make Sure They Don’t Bother Astronomers

Starlink satellites are the new talk of the town with high-speed connectivity and non-interrupted service being major salient features.

Now, SpaceX is working on a number of different upgrades that it feels can prevent the satellite from interfering with astronomers.

These upgrades will include a new reflecting sunlight feature that is designed to function while the device orbits the earth. If not controlled, such lighting has the tendency to interfere with and photo-bomb the different observations made by expert astronomers.

This has been a huge concern lately but it now seems SpaceX is doing everything in its power to address the reservations that many put forward from the science community.

The firm says it’s working side by side with different astronomers to help create ways that limit sunlight reflection from striking the earth’s night sky.

The news came in the form of a new document which was published on Thursday. It entailed the various upgrades SpaceX has planned for, including a number of design changes that it hopes to make for various satellites.

If you’re wondering how and when the reflection occurs, well, it’s simple. Each time the satellite makes a round and strikes the darker portion of the boundary of nighttime and daytime, it’s going to reflect the light.

This is one reason why we’re able to witness these devices at ground level during the initial few hours after the sun goes down.

The sunlight would be seen as posing a major concern for all those involved in space research regarding asteroids and comets near the earth’s surface. In case you didn’t know, these sorts of observations are usually made in the hours pertaining to twilight.

At the start, SpaceX started to think of innovative ways through which the problem could be saved. And that included the arrangement of sun visors across their devices. This would surely block any form of incoming light that caused a major reflection.

While it may have sounded great, SpaceX felt there could be better options as this lacked practicality as the visors may end up preventing the entry of laser links seen on its devices.

Let’s not forget how such products also produce a great deal of atmospheric drag, making devices spend a huge amount of their fuel to carry on with orbits.
Another great solution could have been the use of mirroring films which end up scattering any reflected sunlight from the earth. It’s a great possibility for the future and one that the firm is currently working on for its next-generation products.

SpaceX further detailed how this can decrease the brightness by nearly 10 times when compared to common mirror film seen on first-generation devices.

Starlink’s other initiative to help reduce reflection is the incorporation of darker shaded materials seen on SpaceX that again produce surfaces with fewer degrees of reflection.

Lastly, there is some discussion about solar cell arrays for the upcoming launch of second-gen devices. These would be pointed in a specific direction that’s opposing the sun. Again, this would reduce reflections and has so far been proved to be successful.

There’s a lot of hope and focus attached to all of these measures, with the company promising to make its products invisible to the normal eye.

SpaceX has also gone public with how so many other firms are working on their own satellites to serve as stiff competition for the company. And in the end, we might all be suffering from a huge amount of light pollution, if things aren’t kept in check and balance.

As of now, nearly 3000 satellites have already been launched by SpaceX and there are more to go.

Read next: New Map Pinpoints Where Starlink Satellites Re-Enter Earth’s Atmosphere For Their Disposal
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