SpaceX's 'Starlink' Threatens Half-Billion Dollar Telescope

SpaceX's 'Starlink' project, a man-made satellite constellation with the purpose of providing powerful internet to the entire world, has already snagged a few detractors after only 122 satellites have been launched of the projected 12,000 and possible extension to 42,000.

Astronomers have warned of the potential disruption to land-based equipment and it seems their fears have been realised. 

After construction ends in 2022, the largest and most powerful single-site telescope on Earth - costing close to half a billion dollars - is tasked with surveying the entire known visible sky in just three nights. This will potentially create a world's first moving animation of the complete universe.

SpaceX's Starlink, a means of providing high powered broadband to anywhere on Earth.

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope ( LSST) within the mountains of Chile will then hone in on any changes from this image with astounding accuracy and automation. It will also alert astronomers and tell them where to focus telescopes on for any real-time events such as supernovae or asteroids. 

We will know about the current state of the universe and how it changes from 2022 than we would have in many decades. Possibly even finding upwards of 100,000 supernovae that can give the right conditions for life on surrounding exoplanets by the time the project is over.

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope within the mountains of Chile

That is if the Starlink satellites do not 'ruin' the imagery of the LSST that is. 

The sensitivity of the LSST is such that any object larger than 300m near Earth. Including the Starlink constellation. 

Just last week a series of Starlink satellites passed over neighbouring Cerro Pachon adjacent to the LSST site and wrecked any observations from its Blanco telescope. 

For reference, the Blanco telescope is only a 6.5m optical telescope for surveying the visible sky at a significantly reduced level to the LSST.

The LSST however, will sport a 3.2-gigapixel camera, the largest ever.

This camera will snap 1,000 photos each night from six unique wavelengths including ultraviolet and near-infrared, amassing 15 terabytes in a single sitting. 

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) will have a 3.2 gigapiel camera for imaging space

Within a minute of the images being taken, they will be sent to upload in real-time and available for astronomers to use over the world. 

After a decade of imagery in 2032, 40 billion celestial and 10,000 Kuiper Belt objects will be recorded to study dark energy and matter.

That is if Starlink is not a prime disrupter of the technology. 

What's more important:
Broadband for the world or looking into the deep unknown?

We want to know!

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