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Ugh. There are about to be a LOT more satellites in space

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#1 CrazyPanda

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 08:37 AM

https://techcrunch.c...adband-network/

 

Space-X's plans for a 4,400 satellite internet network to be launched. These will NOT be geostationary. 

 

There are only about 1,700 currently operational satellites and an estimated 2600 defunct ones. So we're about to DOUBLE the number of satellites.

 

"Satellite pollution" seems like it's going to be a thing in the next few years, and astrophotography is about to become a lot harder.



#2 Augustus

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 08:57 AM

The SpaceX, OneWeb, etc. sats are going to be in rather low orbits and hardly ever be visible in full darkness because they'll be in Earth's shadow. I wouldn't be concerned.


Edited by Augustus, 04 April 2018 - 08:57 AM.


#3 Luna-tic

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 09:07 AM

These satellites will be in the range of 220-1100 pounds each; Musk's plans are to place about 800 of them in low-Earth orbits from 685-825 miles up, and the rest around 200 miles. The geostationary internet sats are at 22K miles. His idea is to reduce signal latency to about 3% of what is current in the geosynch systems (240ms reduced to 7ms).

 

His plans are also to deorbit each satellite within a year of its end-of life.

 

https://en.wikipedia..._constellation)


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#4 Ishtim

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 09:08 AM

Glass ½ empty: They'll fit right in with the "disco balls" that are going up.

Glass ½ full:  This may mean we can have 24/7/365 Cloudy Nights access from the remotest places on earth?


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#5 Tony Flanders

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 09:46 AM

The SpaceX, OneWeb, etc. sats are going to be in rather low orbits and hardly ever be visible in full darkness because they'll be in Earth's shadow. I wouldn't be concerned.

Unfortunately, that's not true. The International Space Station is in very low orbit -- low enough to decay quite rapidly without periodic boosts. Yet it's often visible in full darkness. And the post of Luna-tic above indicates that a substantial fraction of these satellites are going to be more than 600 miles up, which isn't low at all.

 

So far, space development has largely ignored environmental considerations, including upper-atmosphere pollution, the risk of space junk both to the ground and to other satellites, and the effects of visual pollution on astronomers, both amateur and professional. That's been possible because of the relatively low level of activity. But if the cost of launching to orbit becomes much cheaper, as Elon Musk hopes and intends, then these costs will become impossible to ignore.



#6 Augustus

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 09:57 AM

Unfortunately, that's not true. The International Space Station is in very low orbit -- low enough to decay quite rapidly without periodic boosts. Yet it's often visible in full darkness. And the post of Luna-tic above indicates that a substantial fraction of these satellites are going to be more than 600 miles up, which isn't low at all.

 

So far, space development has largely ignored environmental considerations, including upper-atmosphere pollution, the risk of space junk both to the ground and to other satellites, and the effects of visual pollution on astronomers, both amateur and professional. That's been possible because of the relatively low level of activity. But if the cost of launching to orbit becomes much cheaper, as Elon Musk hopes and intends, then these costs will become impossible to ignore.

The ISS is a monstrous, football-field sized vehicle with a mass of hundreds of tons.

 

The Starlink and OneWeb sats are 200kg, suitcase-sized vehicles. Remember the "humanity star" everyone freaked out about that was designed to be reflective and was probably about as shiny as these Internet satellites? It was barely above the threshold for naked-eye visibility at a dark site. These satellites will likely be as well.

 

Are you suggesting Elon shouldn't offer cheap Internet to remote regions (which also allows him to pay for his Mars missions, the best chance we have of putting humans on another planet within a few decades because NASA is a grossly incompetent political tool that has overbudget, delayed programs to fulfill political pork such as SLS/Orion) because there's a tiny chance the satellites might affect your photos on a rare occasion?


Edited by Augustus, 04 April 2018 - 10:02 AM.

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#7 starcanoe

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 09:57 AM

Cheap launches and cheap satellites could possibly be a good thing.

 

If such things are low cost...you don't NEED to put them in a high orbit thats for sure good for 20 years...you can put them in a low orbit where they are sure to reenter the atmosphere before too long because they will have failed and or be obsolete by then (and any fragments created by low orbiting satellites will not last long either). Also, if launching mass into orbit becomes cheaper...building in a system to deorbit the thing at end of life becomes much less of a budgetary problem.

 

Not say that IS what is going to happen. Still need some common sense and probably some government intervention....but again with a bit of reason this could be a good thing.


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#8 bobzeq25

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 10:12 AM

This is not a big deal for astrophotography. Take as many subexposures as you should be taking. The processing program will reject the satellite trails.

Edited by bobzeq25, 04 April 2018 - 10:12 AM.

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#9 BillP

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 10:59 AM

Space-X's plans for a 4,400 satellite internet network to be launched. These will NOT be geostationary. 

There are only about 1,700 currently operational satellites and an estimated 2600 defunct ones. So we're about to DOUBLE the number of satellites.

"Satellite pollution" seems like it's going to be a thing in the next few years...

 

Yes.  We have a BIG problem that is just beginning and the International community is not seeing it.  Now that space exploitation is becoming easier and esiaer for corporate entities, they will be sending sending stuff up there en-mass, polluting low Earth orbit.  This will become more and more of a problem when launching other vehicles to ensure no inadvertent collisions.  The numbers are bigger than what you describe as the US Space Command currently tracks more than 17,000 objects in orbit.  Other countries actually use U.S. resources for launches now to ensure the rockets will be on trajectories clear of any of these.  So as Space-X and others commercial entities start sending thousands of things into orbit for their business purposes, including the current craze with smaller nano satellites, it will become quite an unmanageable mess for space operations.  Unfortunately it will probably become a huge problem before it starts getting addressed, at which point the cleanup will become quite a major and costly project, like the ocean trash problem which is estimated to be many trillions of pieces of floating trash and growing due to unrestricted and un-monitored dumping from ships, the 5 large accumulation points for a lot of it in various oceans with a sixth one I believe just discovered in the Arctic, and the largest trash point called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch already covers an area of more than 1.6 million square miles!!


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#10 CrazyPanda

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 11:06 AM

Between plastic pollution, air pollution, light pollution, and space pollution, this seems to be one of humanity's major shortcomings as a species. We put very little collective forethought into our activities. We just don't seem to be wired for it.


Edited by CrazyPanda, 04 April 2018 - 11:06 AM.

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#11 Sonomajfk

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 11:24 AM

My wife and I have a canoe and kayaks, and we've been up and down some of California's most beautiful rivers. We've seen what the banks of some of these beautiful rivers have become, and it's anything but beautiful. I'm afraid the same thing is about to happen to the orbital "environment" around our planet. In the current world political climate, there seems to be little chance of agreement or cooperation between nations to avoid space pollution. I'm afraid we, as humans, have to make a pretty big mess before we start thinking about cleaning it up.
--John.
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#12 Tony Flanders

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 01:56 PM

Are you suggesting Elon shouldn't offer cheap Internet to remote regions (which also allows him to pay for his Mars missions, the best chance we have of putting humans on another planet within a few decades because NASA is a grossly incompetent political tool that has overbudget, delayed programs to fulfill political pork such as SLS/Orion) because there's a tiny chance the satellites might affect your photos on a rare occasion?

No, I am saying that the benefits need to be weighed against the full costs, and nobody should be allowed to dump those costs into public commons, as the manufacturing and power-generating sectors were allowed to do utterly unregulated throughout the 1800s and barely regulated through most of the 1900s.

 

As for the costs, I listed many, of which you chose to mention just one. I am far more concerned about upper-atmosphere pollution and space junk than I am about my own observing experience. I do also wonder how much professional observatories spend erasing satellites from their photos. Can't be completely negligible, I imagine. Of course even if there were zero satellites there would still be meteors and cosmic-ray hits.

 

And are we so sure, sure, sure that sending people to Mars in the next few decades is really such a good idea?


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#13 Augustus

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 02:00 PM

And are we so sure, sure, sure that sending people to Mars in the next few decades is really such a good idea?

Why wouldn't it be?



#14 starcanoe

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 02:02 PM


And are we so sure, sure, sure that sending people to Mars in the next few decades is really such a good idea?

 

Have you meet many people...I have...and I know my life would be much better if some of them they were sent to Mars :)

 

The Facebook blocker can only do so much


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#15 B l a k S t a r

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 02:07 PM

Humans as a species are easily tracked and found amid, or at the end of a trail of trash everywhere they live or roam. 


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#16 BrooksObs

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 02:11 PM

https://techcrunch.c...adband-network/

 

Space-X's plans for a 4,400 satellite internet network to be launched. These will NOT be geostationary. 

 

There are only about 1,700 currently operational satellites and an estimated 2600 defunct ones. So we're about to DOUBLE the number of satellites.

 

"Satellite pollution" seems like it's going to be a thing in the next few years, and astrophotography is about to become a lot harder.

 

Not really. Most stacking programs used for astrophotography these days will automatically remove satellite trails since they normally will appear on only one frame of the stacked images and the program regards their trails as simply glitches or noise in the exposure process and deletes them. 

 

BrooksObs


Edited by BrooksObs, 04 April 2018 - 02:11 PM.

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#17 Tony Flanders

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 02:33 PM

I said:
 

And are we so sure, sure, sure that sending people to Mars in the next few decades is really such a good idea?

 
And Augustus responded:
 

Why wouldn't it be?


That subject would be a better fit for the Space Exploration forum. Suffice to say that there are plenty of good arguments against sending people to Mars -- as well as plenty of good arguments for sending people to Mars. Personally, I don't find either set of arguments fully persuasive, but I certainly don't see why there's any need to be in a huge rush.



#18 Arcticpaddler

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 07:47 PM

I'm utterly amazed by the number of times a satellite tracks through the FOV of my telescopes.


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#19 mich_al

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 08:05 PM

I'd sure like to have some more options here for a decent connection. So far it's either dialup or sat service that is way too spendy and not much bandwidth. I doubt the new stuff would be any cheaper but I'd pay for it if there was some value.
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#20 t_image

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Posted 04 April 2018 - 11:30 PM

Not that Oneweb and SpaceX plans are new, there has been countless post on CN about this already....

Some of the uninformed complaints here,

which strikes me as odd considering a crowd in this hobby I would expect would be good at making observations and drawing reasonable conclusions from them,

makes me more sad than all the concept of human pollution, because here we do the same by polluting the forums up with unreasonable opinions and noise that overwhelms good signal.

 

What I don't understand is do many of you that fear some effect on astrophotography not live near any civilization or airport?

You cannot tell me given the air traffic that is only going to increase around the world,

will be less of an issue that small objects that are in LEO orbit.

The objects will be easily predictable, both in the time, location and brightness (if any).

Planes that fly overhead don't offer any of the sort listed above.....

So if you really cared about astrophotography, then at least complain about planes and city light pollution with a higher intensity than small cubesats and such....

 

And I bet if I challenged you all to go spot more than one Globalstar or O3B or more than one Iridium satellite on a night I bet many here wouldn't even succeed at that....

 

Just drop the light pollution argument. It's just uninformed ignorance.

 

Instead do spend energy on the real danger of a cascading chain reaction of collisions that might make use of certain orbits (or space travel through them) quite impossible for hundreds of years into the future.....


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#21 Redbetter

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 12:47 AM

I'm utterly amazed by the number of times a satellite tracks through the FOV of my telescopes.

 

The frequency of this just keeps increasing.  It seems to be at least 1 per hour anymore which is amazing since only a fraction of the time is actually spent looking in the eyepiece, and the fields I am examining are usually rather narrow.  I don't know that all are satellites (or at least operational ones), quite a few are tumbling based on how rapidly they brighten and fade as they pass through the field.

 

I should probably start keeping count to get a better idea of the actual frequency and when it is happening and what declination.  Since I observe primarily away from the times that satellites should be most visible/illuminated, I am surprised at the number I detect.  I had one throw off my dark adaptation the other night while going deep in the back yard.  It went right through the center of the little section I was working at very high power.


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#22 Augustus

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 07:07 AM

What I don't understand is do many of you that fear some effect on astrophotography not live near any civilization or airport?

You cannot tell me given the air traffic that is only going to increase around the world,

will be less of an issue that small objects that are in LEO orbit.

The objects will be easily predictable, both in the time, location and brightness (if any).

Planes that fly overhead don't offer any of the sort listed above.....

So if you really cared about astrophotography, then at least complain about planes and city light pollution with a higher intensity than small cubesats and such....

 

And I bet if I challenged you all to go spot more than one Globalstar or O3B or more than one Iridium satellite on a night I bet many here wouldn't even succeed at that....

 

Just drop the light pollution argument. It's just uninformed ignorance.

 

Instead do spend energy on the real danger of a cascading chain reaction of collisions that might make use of certain orbits (or space travel through them) quite impossible for hundreds of years into the future.....

waytogo.gif

 

It seems silly that we're wasting our time and energy talking about a fringe issue that we cannot control, when there are bigger issues affecting astronomy a lot more than we can control or at least try to.


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#23 Tony Flanders

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 01:45 PM

Just drop the light pollution argument. It's just uninformed ignorance.

Sorry, I don't agree. I was speaking earlier about satellites as a public concern -- and I do in fact think that the obvious public concerns with respect to upper-atmosphere and orbital-space pollution are more of an issue than my own personal reaction. After all, most people are barely aware that satellites are visible at all, and are certainly unaffected by the sight of them in any negative way.

On the other hand, this mythical "public" is ultimately a collection of individuals, and my own individual reactions do count, albeit just a drop.

My reactions to seeing satellites are mixed. On the one hand, it's kinda cool to lie on my back two hours after sunset at a dark site, watching two or three dozen points of light creeping across the sky in a startling array of different directions. And it's fun to try to observe structure in the Space Station, or to look for specific interesting formations like satellite trios.

On the other hand -- and this is the dominant reaction -- I find them very irksome when I'm doing visual deep-sky observing. As Redbetter says, multiple satellites cross through my telescopic field of view on any given night, and sometimes they're bright enough to disrupt my dark adaptation pretty badly. Telescopic satellites are far more numerous than airplanes. Moreover, airplanes give warning -- you can hear them. Although satellites are in theory predictable, in practice they are not, because they are so numerous, and I don't set out at the beginning of an evening knowing exactly where my telescope will be pointed at any given moment.

At the current level of activity, satellites are a pretty minor nuisance, on a par with fireflies during the summer. Doubling the number of satellites would be worrisome, but only somewhat so.

What would be worrisome is if it became a trend. If the long-forecast -- and long-failing -- prediction of a ten-fold reduction in orbital launch cost ever came to pass, we might see satellites doubling every ten years. After fifty years of that, it would very much cease to be an academic concern; nobody would be able to ignore it.

When the 100-inch telescope on Mount Wilson made its debut in 1917, few people dreamed that it would soon be crippled by light pollution. It was, after all, high up on a mountain, separated by a large swath of near-wilderness from the modest-sized city of Los Angeles. And incandescent street lights just didn't put out that much light, regardless.

Twenty-five years later, when Los Angeles had turned into a metropolis, it was only War-World-II blackout conditions that allowed Walter Baade to do his pioneering work on stellar populations in the Andromeda Galaxy. Once World War II was over, the 100-inch became useless for deep astronomy, and was relegated to various ancillary roles.


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#24 Exnihilo

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 04:47 PM

Well, I wouldn't worry about light pollution from satellites just yet.

 

I don't really believe the satellite internet array is practical from a cost basis, unless the launch and maintenance costs can be kept under control.  So far Musk has a history of overreaching without delivering (i.e. "pie in the sky" ideas).  They may well go ahead and launch it, but as far as it  being profitable, I have my doubts.



#25 MarioJumanji

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Posted 05 April 2018 - 10:49 PM

Personally, I am looking forward to seeing what kind of internet connection spacex can deliver. I'm currently stuck on Hughes gen5 and while it is better than nothing, it really limits what I'm able to do online.
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