Starlink Satellites: What We’re Going to Do With the Radio Waves Leaking?

Daniëlle Futselaar/

According to experts’ findings, satellites owned by SpaceX are emitting radio waves in an unusual manner. According to recent findings, the electronic components that are installed on SpaceX’s Starlink satellites are actually ‘leaking’ low-frequency radio waves (can you believe such a thing?!) in an amount that is distinct from the downlink bands that have been allotted to them. This might have an effect on our capacity to carry out astronomical studies. How terrible is it, and what are some solutions to this problem?!

The impact satellites have on space is becoming an increasingly pressing worry as the density of manmade objects in Earth’s atmosphere continues to rise. And here’s the thing. Did you know that there are around 4,365 of SpaceX’s mini internet satellites already in orbit above the Earth?

SpaceX will go further with its project and has plans to launch thousands more in the near future. That could be like really soon, right?! However, they are not the only corporation doing this.

Beginning in 2024, Amazon intends to launch hundreds more satellites. OneWeb has more than 600.

At least in Europe, the radio frequencies utilized by satellites to transmit data downlink fall somewhere between 10.7 gigahertz and 12.7 gigahertz. Researchers have already voiced their worry over these radio frequencies.

With LOFAR, we detected radiation between 110 and 188 MHz from 47 out of the 68 satellites that were observed, states astronomer Cees Bassa of ASTRON (Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy).

In response to the concerns raised regarding visible light pollution, SpaceX developed a whole new satellite with reduced brightness. However, visible wavelengths are simply one type of Earth-based astronomy that may be studied. Radio astronomy is the second, probably far more significant aspect of the field, and this is where the potential issue resides.

This emission seems to be originating from the satellites’ electrical components, and it wasn’t done on purpose. It also does not constitute a violation of any rules. For instance, the International Electrotechnical Commission establishes tight limitations on electrical equipment to prevent electromagnetic interference on Earth, but the same laws do not apply in space. The restrictions only apply to devices that are used on Earth.

Nevertheless, we are already working on a solution to this problem. The researchers have been in touch with SpaceX, which has indicated that it is investigating potential solutions to the problem of accidental leaks. And despite the fact that there are hundreds of computers currently in orbit, we are, in all honesty, only getting started with the technology behind satellite constellations.

Georgia Nica
Writing was, and still is my first passion. I love all that cool stuff about science and technology. I'll try my best to bring you the latest news every day.