A group of astronomers talk about the impact of a large satellite designed to connect directly to mobile phones.
In a statement on Monday, the International Astronomical Union’s Center for the Protection of Dark and Calm Skies from Satellite Constellation Interference (IAU) said the prototype AST SpaceMobile BlueWalker 3 satellite is now one of the most stars of the night sky – eclipsing all but the brightest stars.
In addition, the scientists warned that the use of terrestrial radio frequencies poses a “new challenge to radio astronomy”.
“BlueWalker 3 is a big change in the constellation satellite issue and should give us all a reason to pause,” Piero Benvenuti, director of IAU CPS, said in a statement.
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The satellite, which serves as a “mobile phone [tower] in space,” was launched into low Earth orbit in September and features an antenna system of nearly 700 square feet.
It will transmit strong radio waves at frequencies reserved for terrestrial cell phone communications.
“These in-orbit transmitters, which are not subject to the same radio quiet zone restrictions as ground-based cellular networks, have the potential to severely impact radio astronomy research as well as geodetic studies and experiments. of space physics,” the IAU said, noting that it had recently written a letter to the Federal Communications Commission urging it to seriously consider the potential impacts of satellite constellations on astronomy, the appearance of the night sky, and the ‘environment.
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AST SpaceMobile said BW3 is the largest commercial communications network ever deployed in low Earth orbit.
“AST SpaceMobile’s mission is to help solve the major global problem of lack of connectivity, which affects billions of people around the world. We are building the first and only space-based broadband cellular network – a network designed to provide coverage to areas currently beyond the reach of today’s networks. Our planned network aims to connect devices worldwide and support a universal good. Cellular broadband for a plus many people around the world would help reduce poverty, support economic development, build a more equitable and diverse digital society, and save lives,” an AST SpaceMobile spokesperson told Fox News Digital. in a press release.
The company said it wanted to use the latest technologies and strategies to mitigate possible impacts on astronomy.
“We are actively working with industry experts on the latest innovations, including next-generation anti-reflective materials. We are also engaged with NASA and certain working groups within the astronomical community to participate in advanced industrial solutions , including potential operational interventions,” he said. said. “As part of this work, AST SpaceMobile is committed to avoiding transmissions in or near the National Radio Quiet Zone (NRQZ) in the United States and other radio astronomy locations that are not officially recognized, as required or required. We also plan to place a gateway of antennas away from the NRQZ and other astronomy-important radio quiet zones.”
AST SpaceMobile plans to provide substantial worldwide coverage with a network of 168 or fewer satellites.
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This story has been updated with a comment from AST SpaceMobile
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