Starlink satellites interfere with a radio frequency dedicated to astronomers

2023-07-15 11:30:00

German researchers have discovered that two-thirds of Starlink satellites emit radio waves on a frequency reserved for radio astronomy which could have a significant impact on many astronomical projects. Without the cooperation of SpaceX and its competitors, this problem will only get worse as the number of satellites in orbit increases.

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SpaceXSpaceX’s StarlinkStarlink satellite internet was a big help during the war in Ukraine. However, the light pollution generated by the constellationconstellation of satellites was strongly criticized by astronomersastronomers, and the firm ended up finding a compromise. Unfortunately for Elon MuskElon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, the firm will have to face a new problem: leaks of radioradio waves.

In an article published in the journal Astonomy & Astrophysicsresearchers from The Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany analyzed electromagnetic radiation from 68 of SpaceX’s satellites for accidental emissions. To do this, they used the Lofar interferometer interferometer, a radiotelescoperadiotelescope made up of a set of large radio antennas distributed in five European countries.

Electromagnetic radiation in the frequencies of radio astronomy

The Starlink constellation uses 10.7 to 12.7 GHz frequencies to communicate, but researchers found emissions between 110 and 188 MHz for 47 of the 68 satellites. This is particularly problematic because it includes the band 150.05 to 153 MHz, specifically reserved for radio astronomy. However, unlike terrestrial equipment, there are no international regulations for this kind of radiation from satellites.

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The researchers said they are in contact with SpaceX to discuss possible solutions. The firm has notably modified the next generation of satellites to reduce interference interference. ” We believe that the early recognition of this situation gives astronomy and large constellation operators an opportunity to work together on proactive technical solutions, alongside the discussions needed to develop appropriate regulations. said Gyula Józsa, one of the study’s co-authors.

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