5-speed listening (Satellites - Level 6)

Satellites may obscure our views of the stars



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Astronomers are concerned that our views of the heavens are becoming more and more obscured. Their warning comes ahead of a whole series of satellite launches by a variety of companies. Thousands of satellites are being launched into orbit throughout 2020 to make high-speed Internet more readily available across the world from space. The scientists say the skies will be so littered with arrays of satellites they will compete for our attention with the stars. They say the satellites will link up to form "mega-constellations" that could interfere with radio astronomy and the quality of images from optical telescopes. The astronomers said the satellites will appear as dazzling white streaks of light that could be mistaken for stars.

Technology analysts say there are plans to launch as many as 46,000 satellites into space over the next few years. This is five times more than the number of objects sent into space since the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957, over six decades ago. Satellites from companies like SpaceX and Amazon will provide much faster Internet speeds to even the remotest areas of the world. They will provide global connectivity across the globe. Even today, about 14 million people in the USA live in rural areas with zero Internet coverage. SpaceX will launch 120 satellites in January and has plans to send a further 12,000 into orbit in the next decade. Astrophysicist Dr Dave Clements called the initiative a "tragedy".

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Satellites - Level 4  |  Satellites - Level 5

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