Astronomers have been worried about the effect of satellites, as heir increasing number in the orbit is posing a problem for night skies observation. We can’t do anything to remove them – but we can now help monitor the problem. With its new project Satellite Streak Watcher, NASA asks everyone to help to track the population growth of satellites over time. And all you need is a smartphone camera.
The first batch of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites was launched in May this year, making astronomers worried about how they would affect the night sky. Now that the second batch has been launched, the astronomers’ concerns are becoming a reality.
On Monday 18 November, two astronomers checked the image of their remotely operated telescope in Chile. But instead of a clear night sky, they saw a bunch of light trails from Starlink satellites.
On 23 May, the first 60 SpaceX’s Starlink satellites were successfully launched into orbit. They were caught on camera and they look spectacular while orbiting around the Earth together. However, the ultimate plan is to launch nearly 12,000 of these satellites. Have you wondered how it will affect the night skies? Astronomers are concerned that they will pollute the night sky, and astrophotography is only one of the areas that could be hindered by this many satellites in the orbit.
I believe we’ve all seen the famous Earthrise photo taken by the Apollo 8 crew 50 years ago. But thanks to a Chinese satellite that’s currently in lunar orbit, we get to see the Erath and the Moon from a totally different and rare perspective. On 3 February current year, the satellite captured an image of the far side of the Moon with our planet in the background.
Last month, NASA launched TESS, a satellite that will search thousands of stars for Earth-like exoplanets. TESS has just sent back its first photo, and although it’s just a test image, it’s fascinating and gives you an idea of how big the mission is. The photo shows more than 200,000 stars, and four TESS cameras will cover more than 400 times as much sky during the mission.
Celebrating Israel Space Week, which started on Sunday, employees of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) had a group photo taken from space.
The photo, which depicted the company’s initials, was captured by the EROS-B (Earth Remote Observation System-B) satellite from a height of 520km (325 miles).
The 300 or so employees had to be at a specific location at a very precise time for the photo-op to work. Luckily, determining these factors was a piece of cake, as they are somewhat familiar with the satellite – they built it.
If you’ve heard of INSA, chances are you’re thinking of animated walls right now. For those who don’t know him (and you definitely should), INSA is famous for his stop motion GIF-ITI artwork – animated GIFs created from graffiti paintings.
The UK street artist recently created the biggest animated painting for another GIF-ITI project, but with two changes from his ordinary workflow. Rather than painting a wall INSA painted an entire parking lot, and instead of a regular camera he used a satellite to capture his creation!
Although the access to satellite imagery has never been as broadly available as today, it is still not without its issues. The pictures are often very old because shooting a satellite up to (near) space with a rocket is just crazy expensive. In fact, according to Will Marshall, building a satellite can cost up to $85o,000,000 (yup, this is a 7 zeros figure) and weigh over 3 tons in avarage. Planet Labs however aims to revolutionize satellite images by building cheaper, smaller (think Red Epic size) and lighter (4kg) devices that are capable of updating pictures daily. Will Marshall, co-founder of Planet Labs recently gave a TED- Talk.