The diffuse reflection produced by satellites and space debris has a much greater impact on the light pollution on the earth than we thought
Satellite pollution, but this is not air pollution, but light pollution.As a Study at Bratislava University,by Royal Astronomical Society, The scattered orbital light illuminates our night at least ten percent, and this phenomenon occurs all over the earth.
As a result, there is no longer any place of absolute darkness on the earth. Astronomers warn that plans to put thousands of satellites into orbit, including the Starlink project of Tesla creator Elon Musk, may further exacerbate the problem.
Today, more than 80% of the world’s population lives under an unusually bright night sky. This is because artificial lighting and the stray light reflected in the atmosphere produce permanent brilliance. Measurements by the International Dark-Sky Association show that light pollution continues to increase worldwide.
The brightness of the night not only makes astronomical observations difficult, but also changes the internal clocks of humans and animals.
The moon that kills the stars
However, urban artificial lighting is not the only tool to kill stars. Sputniks and larger space debris in the Earth’s orbit can also illuminate the night, just like small satellites that reflect sunlight, which look like bright stripes in telescope images.
In addition to these dotted lines, the diffuse reflection of sunlight from satellites can also cause so-called stray light. With about 3,400 active satellites and thousands of larger space debris, the scattered orbital light may be enough to illuminate the darkness at night.
The team of researchers in Bratislava decided to accurately measure the amount of night lighting caused by orbiting objects. In their model, they calculated how much sunlight is reflected by such an object on average, and how much sunlight is directed toward the earth as scattered light.
The result: only existing satellites and orbital debris are illuminated at night, with an average of 16 to 20 microcandlesticks per square meter. This amount is equivalent to 10% of the natural brightness of the night sky, so it is higher than the critical threshold that the International Astronomical Union (IAU) regarded as the upper acceptable limit for light pollution in astronomical sites in 1979.
In other words, there are no longer ideal astronomical observation sites, even in privileged enclaves like Roque de los Muchachos on La Palma. This light pollution also reaches these places.
Roque de los Muchachos travel: Europe’s cleanest sky
The true range of orbital light pollution may be larger because only known satellites and debris are considered in the calculations, but there are still many orbiting objects to be determined.
The planned giant constellation of thousands of new satellites will provide broadband Internet to the entire planet, such as Starlink, Amazon, OneWeb and other companies, but at an additional cost: the ability to correctly observe the sky from the surface of the earth will be further reduced . . Not only will the night sky be contaminated by astronomers, but everyone on the planet will exchange stars for Internet connections.