In DepthAstronomy

Satellite swarm threatens radio array

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Science  16 Oct 2020:
Vol. 370, Issue 6514, pp. 274-275
DOI: 10.1126/science.370.6514.274

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Summary

The 197 radio astronomy dishes of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) in South Africa, due for completion later this decade, may find itself threatened from above by tens of thousands of communications satellites beaming down radio signals. The rocket company SpaceX has already launched hundreds of Starlink satellites, the first "megaconstellation" intended to provide internet service to remote areas. The satellites have aroused the ire of optical astronomers because of the bright streaks they leave across telescopes' fields of view. Now, radio astronomers are worried, too. Last week, SKA released an analysis of the impact that Starlink and other constellations would have on the array. The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs is also considering ways to keep satellites from polluting the night sky with light and radio signals and astronomers hope the International Telecommunication Union, a U.N. organization, will step in.

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