Astronomers have issued an Earth Day call for environmentalism to be extended more fully to the final frontier, and for companies such as SpaceX and Amazon to dial back their plans for mega-constellations.
Among the authors of today’s commentary in the journal Nature Astronomy is Meredith Rawls of the University of Washington.
Astronomers have been raising concerns about the impact of having thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit for years, starting with SpaceX’s launch of the first operational satellites for its Starlink broadband constellation in 2019. Rawls and the other authors of today’s commentary stress that they aren’t just worried about interference with their astronomical observations, but are also concerned about the broader impact on appreciation of the night sky.
“We need all hands on deck to address the rapidly changing satellite situation if we can hope to co-create a future with dark and quiet skies for everyone,” Rawls, a research scientist with the Vera C. Rubin Observatory and UW’s DIRAC Institute, said in a news release.