Starlink satellites will reduce brightness so as not to interfere with astronomers

Starlink satellites will reduce brightness so as not to interfere with astronomers. The SpaceX device development company has published a detailed plan to reduce the reflectivity of the device body. This was said in a statement.

In 2015, the head of the company, Elon Musk, announced plans to launch a global project for the distribution of satellite Internet Starlink. In May 2019, the company launched 60 satellites into orbit – they were the first of a group of almost 12 thousand vehicles that will be located in near-Earth orbit.

Each satellite has brightness – for Starlink devices, this indicator was initially estimated at two magnitudes (that is, slightly less than the brightness of a polar star). Then astronomers clarified the estimate – the devices will glow at 5-7 magnitudes.

In addition to the constant emission of light, satellites can “flash” from time to time – this happens when sunlight enters their batteries and housing. According to astronomers, the satellites will be the brightest at dusk – this will make it difficult to observe potentially dangerous asteroids and other objects in the solar system that are best seen at this particular time. Another problem is that for communication and distribution of the Internet, satellites will use radio frequencies close to those used by astronomers when observing using ground-based radio telescopes.


In order to reduce pressure from the scientific community, SpaceX promised to reduce the brightness of its satellites. Now the company has published a detailed plan of how it plans to do this.

VisorSat – “sun visors” will be installed on all new Starlink satellites, which will block sunlight from the Earth’s body and batteries for the observer from the Earth.

In addition, the company plans to change the orientation of the satellites in space after they reach their target orbit. This measure will reduce the reflectivity of already running devices.

The main goal is to make the satellites invisible to the naked eye and minimize the impact on astronomy. We want the constellation of satellites not to create obstacles for making new astronomical discoveries.

Elon Musk, head of SpaceX

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Author: Flyn Braun
Graduated from Cambridge University. Previously, he worked in various diferent news media. Currently, it is a columnist of the us news section in the Free News editors.
Function: Editor
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