Credit: OneWeb

As a batch of OneWeb satellites is set for liftoff Thursday, an international appeal/petition from astronomers is calling for a moratorium on satellite constellations.

A Soyuz-2.1b with Fregat-M booster, topped by 34 OneWeb satellites is scheduled to take off February 6 from Kazakhstan, kicking off a sequence of up to 20 launches from three countries to deploy nearly 650 satellites for OneWeb’s global Internet network.

An image of the NGC 5353/4 galaxy group made with a telescope at Lowell Observatory in Arizona, USA on the night of Saturday 25 May 2019. The diagonal lines running across the image are trails of reflected light left by more than 25 of the 60 recently launched Starlink satellites as they passed through the telescope’s field of view. Although this image serves as an illustration of the impact of reflections from satellite constellations, please note that the density of these satellites is significantly higher in the days after launch (as seen here) and also that the satellites will diminish in brightness as they reach their final orbital altitude.
Credit: Victoria Girgis/Lowell Observatory

Growing ire

Meanwhile, deployment of satellite constellations has come under fire from thousands of astronomers involved with astronomical observatories and facilities.

The growing ire focuses on putting a hold on further SpaceX Starlink launches (and other projects) and carry out an accurate moratorium on all technologies that can negatively impact astronomical space-based and ground based observations.

Aggregated concerns

In a paper led by Stefano Gallozzi at the Astronomical Observatory of Rome in Italy, the aggravated and aggregated concerns about satellite constellations have been raised.

Starlink satellites visible in a mosaic of an astronomical image.
Courtesy of NSF’s
National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory/NSF/AURA/CTIO/DELVE)

 

“The deployment of large fleets of small satellites planned or ongoing for the next generation of global telecommunication networks can severely harm ground based astronomical observations,” explains the paper. All private displacement of satellite constellation projects must be put on hold, the paper adds.

 

 

To view the February 4, 2020 paper – “Concerns about ground based astronomical observations: A step to Safeguard the Astronomical Sky” – go to: 

https://arxiv.org/pdf/2001.10952.pdf

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