Hardly a day goes by where a story hits the headlines about our abuse of the Earth’s precious environment be that the atmosphere or the oceans, forests or desert. When it comes to the atmosphere we all tend to immediately turn our attention to pollution, to gasses being released and disturbing the delicate balance. Yet a paper recently published points to a new demon, megaconstellations of satellites damaging the ionosphere – the ionised part of the upper atmosphere.Continue reading “Millions of Satellites Could Have a Profound Effect on the Earth’s Ionosphere”
For decades, scientists have been trying to figure out the minimum number of satellites that would be able to see every point on Earth. This question is motivated in part by the growing problem of space debris, but also by considerations of cost and efficiency. By the mid-1980s, researcher John E. Draim proposed a solution to this problem in a series of studies, claiming that a four-satellite constellation was all that was needed.
Unfortunately, his solution simply wasn’t practical at the time since a tremendous amount of propellant would be needed to keep the satellites in orbit. But thanks to a recent collaborative study, a team of researchers has found the right combination of factors to make a four-satellite constellation possible. Their findings could drive advances in telecommunication, navigation, and remote sensing while also reducing costs.Continue reading “Scientists Figure Out How to Continuously Watch the Entire Planet With Just 4 Satellites”
Have you seen Starlink? It all started, as all good breaking astronomical events seem to do, late on a Friday night. We got the notification first from veteran satellite tracker Dr. Marco Langbroek over in the Netherlands via the venerable See-Sat-L message board, and on Twitter soon after:Continue reading “Catching a Ride on the Starlink Satellite Train: Midnight Marvel, or Night Sky Menace?”