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Starlink Satellites Emitting Radiation That Interferes with Astronomy, Warn Scientists

A new study has issued a warning, stating that over half of Elon Musk’s Starlink internet satellites are releasing radiation while in orbit, potentially impeding astronomers’ ability to discover habitable planets. The study reveals that the faint signal reaching Earth from these satellites is extremely weak, with even a single mobile phone on the Moon outshining all but the brightest of them. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute utilized a telescope in the Netherlands to examine 68 Starlink devices, discovering that 47 of them emitted unintended electromagnetic radiation originating from their onboard electronics. Starlink Satellites Emitting Radiation That Interferes with Astronomy, Warn Scientists.

The institute expressed concerns regarding the impact of this radiation on astronomical research. It should be noted that the study solely focused on satellites owned by SpaceX, but the institute believes that a similar scenario might exist among other Low-Earth-orbiting satellites. Radio astronomers, who possess the capability to filter out these signals, are familiar with this issue. Nevertheless, the leakage radiation may create artificial signals at unintended frequencies, potentially interfering with astronomical observations.

Astronomical Interference Caused by Starlink Satellites’ Radiation Leakage, Warn Scientists

The Max Planck Institute’s observations revealed that 47 out of the 68 satellites emitted previously unidentified spurious radiation within the frequency range of 110 to 188 megahertz, overlapping with radio frequencies reserved for astronomical observations. The team of researchers monitored the behavior of 68 Starlink satellites and identified 47 of them as emitting unintended radiation, which could impede deep space exploration.

Starlink Satellites Emitting Radiation That Interferes with Astronomy, Warn Scientists

Leakage radiation typically arises from human activities on the ground, but with the rapid increase in the number of satellites, astronomers are becoming increasingly concerned about the impact from space. Despite this issue, the institute clarifies that SpaceX is not violating any regulations by emitting this spurious radiation since it is not covered by international satellite regulations.

 Study Reveals Starlink Satellites Emitting Electromagnetic Radiation Hampering Astronomical Discoveries

The observations were conducted using the Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR) telescope, primarily located in the Netherlands but also spread across seven other European countries. Benjamin Winkel, a scientist from the Max-Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, Germany, and the Committee on Radio Astronomy Frequencies, France, recalled the emergence of concerns about leakage radiation from artificial satellites around two years ago.

The institute plans to conduct further observations and anticipates detecting similar unintended emissions from non-SpaceX satellites in low-Earth orbit. Co-author Cees Bassa from ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, stated that LOFAR detected radiation between 110 and 188 MHz from 47 out of the 68 observed satellites.

Boffins Sound Alarm: Starlink Satellites Leak Radiation Hampering Astronomical Observations

Winkel, along with colleagues associated with the Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO), decided to investigate the matter due to the frequency range overlapping with the protected band allocated to radio astronomy by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), specifically between 150.05 and 153 MHz.

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