A large satellite could be harmful to astronomers observing the sky

The satellite features a giant antenna array that measures 693 square feet (64 square meters).

A massive satellite is about to fly, spreading its gigantic array of antennas to block astronomers’ view of the universe. AST SpaceMobile’s BlueWalker 3 is scheduled to launch on Saturday to test the company’s broadband network technology, but the satellite’s prototype is too bright and could interfere with celestial observations.

Due to BlueWalker Launched into low Earth orbit aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 7:51 p.m. ET from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Once in low Earth orbit, the satellite will a test It’s beyond the Texas-based company’s ability to send an Internet connection directly from space to people’s mobile phones. Recently, AST SpaceMobile Chairman and CEO Abel Avellan splurge on Twitter, “Made in TX – Size matters!” When referring to the satellite. And it really is, as this bad boy has a 693-square-foot (64-square-meter) array of antennas that will unfold into space. The satellite is expected to be among the brightest in the night sky, after its antenna has been completely disengaged. According to Sky and Telescope.

When it points to Earth, the satellite’s giant array will reflect sunlight back to our planet, which could cause bright streaks across astronomical images and interfere with scientific data. Even worse, if the experimental satellite succeeds in its mission, the company could send more than 100 of its satellites into orbit by the end of 2024 to build a full Internet constellation. The operational satellites, which will be called BlueBirds, could cause more interference as they are expected to be of a similar size to the BlueWalker 3.

Astronomers have expressed concern about the satellite’s brightness as it joins the constellations of commercial constellations currently being built in low Earth orbit. From the Rubin Observatory site in Cerro Passion, Chile, the BlueWalker satellite will be as bright as the star Vega near the climax of the twilight, according to Connie Walker, an astronomer with the National Science Foundation (NSF) NOIRLab. “These new satellites are expected to saturate Robin’s observations,” Walker told Gizmodo in an email.

In an effort to understand the extent of this threat, NSF’s NOIRLab and the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Center to protect dark, calm skies from the interference of the constellation of satellites have called on astronomers from around the world to take observations of the satellite’s brightness. Once in orbit. “[Low Earth orbit satellites] disproportionately affects scientific programs that require auroras observations, such as searching for Earth-threatening asteroids and comets, solar system outer bodies, and visible-light isotopes of transient gravitational wave sources,” NSF Wrote in a report.

BlueWalker is launched into space with 60 SpaceX’s Starlink satellites, which has already disrupted astronomical observations. Elon Musk’s private space company is seeking to launch 42,000 satellites into low Earth orbit to build a massive mass of broadband internet. Although SpaceX has only received approval for 12,000 satellites by the Federal Communications Commission so far. But the company is in talks with the IAU to find ways to dim the brightness of its satellites so they don’t interfere with images of the universe.

Technological advances are bringing an exciting era of our connectivity, so we hope it won’t come at the expense of our ability to gaze at celestial bodies and collect valuable data about the universe.

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