SpaceX uses the blackest paint in the world to coat Starlink satellites to prevent them from interfering with astronomy research. In a Twitter thread, an engineer details how the space exploration company is working with scientists to not hinder their work.
Because SpaceX plans to launch as many satellites as needed to achieve its global Starlink internet connectivity goals, there have been concerns about how these space activities would affect astronomy research.
The company also understands the concerns and has developed something called a space-stable dielectric Bragg reflector film. What it does is reduce the satellite’s visibility to a non-obstructive magnitude. In addition, the company has promised to offer the film at cost to other operators planning to launch their constellations into the sky.
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“SpaceX has also developed a low reflectivity black paint, which is five times less reflective than the current darkest available space-stable paint, to coat various reflective Starlink satellite components,” Alex added.
This is not all that the company is doing to ensure that its operations do not adversely impede other vital works. It also uses a special opaque coating to cover the back of solar arrays, and the satellite has a maneuver that reduces reflectivity.
Astronomy is very much dependent on how light interacts in space, and reflective satellites could lead to problems in the work of astronomers. Optical astronomy is one of the oldest form of the science, and digital detectors could be misled due to reflection from artificial objects.
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