WABASH VALLEY (WTHI) - Over the last year, the WTHI Newsroom gets flooded with phone calls and social media posts regarding strange objects in the sky at night. Some viewers have actually been able to capture the strange objects using simply their phone.
It may have looked a little like this:
These are actually SpaceX's Starlink Satellites.
A project to bring a satellite internet worldwide was proposed by CEO Elon Musk. The idea was to place 4,000 satellites in low earth orbit so everyone worldwide would be able to access the internet.
Now, The Federal Trade Commision (FCC) granted SpaceX permission to have up to 30,000 satellites to provide a low-cost solution for internet worldwide. 422 satellites have currently been deployed between February 2018 to now. Launches have been ongoing ever since.
How do the satellites work?
Every Starlink satellite weighs around 500 pounds and is the size of a table. Each satellite will work like a cable satellite however it will send internet signals at a much faster rate than what we have on the ground on earth. Our current internet satellites orbit earth around 22,236 miles above earth in geosynchronus orbit.
This means it stays in one spot above the earth in space. With this big space between the earth and our current internet satellite, disruptions are common.
SpaceX's Starlink satellites will be much closer to earth and will cover the earth in a blanket of satellites.
What about stargazers?
There has been a lot of controversy over the project. As previously mentioned, many stargazers have witnessed a string of lights across the night sky.
From backyard stargazers to professional institutes, many have raised concern what these satellites will do for our future sky.
The International Astronomical Union stated that:
"Satellite constellations can pose a significant or debilitating threat to important existing and future astronomical infrastructures, and we urge their designers and deployers as well as policy-makers to work with the astronomical community in a concerted effort to analyse and understand the impact of satellite constellations"
SpaceX has stated that they will be working closely with agencies around the world to help alleviate any impact there satellites have. One experiment is to have a black coating on the satellite which will make an impact on the brightness the satellite gives off.
Nonetheless, SpaceX will continue with launches and production of the Starlink Satellites for many years to come. There are websites where you can track the SpaceX Starlink Satellites and view them from your own backyard.
Mann, Adam. “Starlink: SpaceX's Satellite Internet Project.” Space.com, Space, 17 Jan. 2020, www.space.com/spacex-starlink-satellites.html.