In a recently released statement earlier this week, the International Astronomical Union raised concerns for the growing number of satellite constellations.
A satellite constellation is a group of satellites all working together in a grid. Like other space debris, if the number of satellites get higher in the low-earth orbit, it could cause problems related to astronomy. According to IAU, the number of satellites in organized satellite constellations was less than 200 which is considerably low considering an earlier report by UNOOSA revealed that there were about 4,600 satellites in Earth’s orbit.
While there are a number of private organizations planning on launching satellite constellations, SpaceX remains to be the frontrunner as Elon Musk recently said that the company’s Starlink satellites will have 0% impact on advancements in astronomy.
However, the IAU raised concerns over the number of satellites scheduled to launch in the coming years. In the report, IAU wrote that the reflections on satellite can have negative impact on the “sensitive capabilities of large ground-based astronomical telescopes”. The report added that the “aggregate radio signals emitted from the satellite constellations can still threaten astronomical observations at radio wavelengths.”
In order to mitigate the effects of satellite constellations, the IAU recommended a regulated framework to be established to reduce or to eliminate the negative impacts of the constellations as soon as possible.