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当SpaceX发射60颗Starlink卫星时,科学家看到“天文学本身”受到威胁

    Various companies are pressing ahead with plans for internet service from space, which has prompted astronomers to voice concerns about the impact on research from telescopes on Earth.

    多家公司都在推进太空互联网服务的计划,这促使天文学家表达了对地球望远镜对研究的影响的担忧。

    On Monday morning, SpaceX launched one of its reusable rockets from Cape Canaveral, Fla., carrying 60 satellites into space at once. It was the second payload of Starlink, its planned constellation of tens of thousands of orbiting transmitters to beam internet service across the globe.

    周一早上,SpaceX从佛罗里达州卡纳维拉尔角发射了其可重复使用的火箭之一,一次将60颗卫星送入太空。这是Starlink的第二个有效载荷,Starlink是计划中的成千上万个轨道发射机的星座,旨在向全球范围内的互联网服务发送光束。

    Successful deployment of 60 Starlink satellites confirmed! pic.twitter.com/bpBqO9oYR3

    确认成功部署了60颗Starlink卫星! pic.twitter.com/bpBqO9oYR3

    - SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 11, 2019

    - SpaceX(@SpaceX)2019年11月11日

    When SpaceX, the private rocket company founded by Elon Musk, launched the first batch of Starlink orbiters in May, many astronomers were surprised to see that the satellites were extremely bright, causing them to fear that the constellation would wreak havoc on scientific research and transform our view of the stars. Since then, many scientists have been on a mission to better quantify the impacts of Starlink and to share their concerns with SpaceX.

    当埃隆·马斯克(Elon Musk)创立的私人火箭公司SpaceX在5月发射了第一批Starlink轨道器时,许多天文学家惊讶地发现这些卫星非常明亮,这使他们担心该星座会严重破坏科学研究和改造。我们对星星的看法。自那时以来,许多科学家一直在执行任务,以更好地量化Starlink的影响并与SpaceX分享他们的担忧。

    In response, SpaceX has said that it wants to mitigate the potential impacts of Starlink. But at the same time, the company is still moving full steam ahead.

    作为回应,SpaceX表示希望减轻Starlink的潜在影响。但与此同时,该公司仍在全力以赴。

    Whoa, it worked!!

    哇,成功了!!

    - Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 22, 2019

    -Elon Musk(@elonmusk)2019年10月22日

    In October, Mr. Musk announced that he was using Twitter via a Starlink internet connection, as his company was requesting permission from the Federal Communications Commission to operate as many as 30,000 satellites on top of the 12,000 already approved. Should SpaceX succeed in sending this many satellites to low-Earth orbit, its constellation would contain more than eight times as many satellites as the total number currently in orbit.

    去年10月,马斯克先生宣布他正在通过Starlink互联网连接使用Twitter,因为他的公司正在要求联邦通信委员会的许可,以便在已批准的12,000颗卫星的基础上再运行30,000颗卫星。如果SpaceX成功将如此多的卫星发送到低地球轨道,则其星座中的卫星将是当前轨道总数的八倍以上。

    That move added to the worries of many astronomers.

    这一举动增加了许多天文学家的担忧。

    When James Lowenthal, an astronomer at Smith College, first saw the train of Starlink satellites marching like false stars across the night sky in the spring, he knew something had shifted.

    当史密斯学院的天文学家詹姆士·洛文塔尔(James Lowenthal)首次看到春季时,星链卫星像假星一样在夜空中行进时,他知道情况已经发生了变化。

    “I felt as if life as an astronomer and a lover of the night sky would never be the same,” he said.

    他说:“我觉得作为天文学家和夜空爱好者的生活永远不会一样。”

    Most of the first Starlink nodes have since moved to higher orbits and are now invisible for most of us who live under bright city lights. But they are still noticeable from places with dark skies. If thousands more of these satellites are launched, Dr. Lowenthal said he feared “it will look as if the whole sky is crawling with stars.”

    此后,大多数第一个Starlink节点已移至更高的轨道,现在对于生活在明亮的城市灯光下的我们大多数人来说,它们是不可见的。但是在天空黑的地方它们仍然很引人注目。洛文塔尔博士说,如果再发射成千上万的此类卫星,他担心“看起来好像整个天空都在爬满星星。”

    Since May, the American Astronomical Society has convened an ad hoc committee with Dr. Lowenthal and other experts to discuss their concerns with SpaceX representatives once a month.

    自五月以来,美国天文学会每月与Lowenthal博士和其他专家召集一个特设委员会,与SpaceX代表讨论他们的担忧。

纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com/

    At the same time, SpaceX has been working directly with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, a federally funded research center that operates facilities across the world, to jointly minimize potential impacts of Starlink satellites on radio wavelengths that astronomers use.

    同时,SpaceX已直接与由国家资助的研究中心国家射电天文台直接合作,该研究中心在全球范围内运作,以最大程度地减少Starlink卫星对天文学家使用的无线电波长的潜在影响。

    But these conversations did not focus on light pollution, a problem presented by the reflective surfaces of proposed satellite constellations such as Starlink. At first, SpaceX said the complication would be minimal, and the new committee is trying to assess the impact and actively find solutions.

    但是这些对话并没有把重点放在光污染上,这是提议的卫星星座如Starlink的反射表面所带来的问题。最初,SpaceX表示这种复杂性很小,新委员会正在尝试评估其影响并积极寻找解决方案。

    “So far, they’ve been quite open and generous with their data,” Dr. Lowenthal said. “But they have not made any promises.”

    Lowenthal博士说:“到目前为止,他们对数据非常开放和慷慨。” “但是他们没有做出任何承诺。”

    A spokeswoman from SpaceX said the company was taking steps to paint the Earth-facing bases of the satellites black to reduce their reflectiveness. But Anthony Tyson, an astronomer at the University of California, Davis, said that wouldn’t solve the problem.

    SpaceX的一位发言人表示,该公司正在采取措施将这些卫星的地面基座涂成黑色,以降低其反射率。但是加州大学戴维斯分校的天文学家安东尼·泰森说,这并不能解决问题。

    Dr. Tyson is the chief scientist for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope - a 27-foot, billion-dollar telescope under construction in Chile that will scan the entire sky every three days. The survey, the world’s largest yet, will help astronomers better understand dark energy, dark matter, the origin of the Milky Way and the outer regions of the solar system. But because it is designed to scan faint objects, it is expected to be greatly affected by the satellites.

    泰森博士是大型天气观测望远镜的首席科学家,该望远镜是智利正在建造的27英尺,十亿美元的望远镜,它将每三天扫描一次整个天空。这项全球最大的调查将帮助天文学家更好地了解暗能量,暗物质,银河系的起源以及太阳系外围区域。但是由于它是为扫描微弱的物体而设计的,因此预计会受到卫星的极大影响。

    Dr. Tyson’s simulations showed that the telescope would pick up Starlink-like objects even if they were darkened. And they wouldn’t just affect a single pixel in a photograph. When there is a single bright object in the image, it can create fainter artifacts as well because of internal reflections within the telescope’s detector. Moreover, whenever a satellite photobombs a long-exposure image, it causes a bright streak of light that can cross directly in front of an object astronomers wish to observe.

    泰森博士的模拟结果表明,即使变暗了,望远镜也能拾取类似Starlink的物体。它们不仅会影响照片中的单个像素。当图像中只有一个明亮的物体时,由于望远镜探测器内的内部反射,它也会产生较暗的伪像。此外,每当卫星用光弹轰炸长时间曝光的图像时,都会引起明亮的光斑,这些光斑可以直接在天文学家希望观察的物体前方穿过。

    “It’s really a mess,” Dr. Tyson said.

    泰森博士说:“这真是一团糟。”

    Knowing how challenging it would be to correct these interrupted images, Dr. Tyson decided the best step forward was to set the telescope to avoid Starlink satellites. While simulations based on the earlier 12,000-satellite total suggested that would be possible, SpaceX’s application for 30,000 additional satellites upset the calculations.

纽约时报中英文网 www.qqenglish.com

    泰森博士知道校正这些中断的图像将是多么艰巨的挑战,因此决定前进的最好步骤是将望远镜设置为避开Starlink卫星。虽然基于较早的12,000颗卫星的模拟表明这是可能的,但SpaceX的30,000颗额外卫星的应用却扰乱了计算。

    “We’re redoing the models now just to see what’s visible at any one time - and it’s really quite frightening,” said Patrick Seitzer, a professor of astronomy emeritus at the University of Michigan, who has been running similar analyses to determine how many satellites will be visible and when.

    密歇根大学天文学名誉教授帕特里克·塞泽特(Patrick Seitzer)说:“我们现在正在重做模型,以便随时查看可见的事物,而且确实令人恐惧。”他一直在进行类似的分析以确定多少卫星将在何时可见。

    His preliminary results suggest that avoiding the satellites would be difficult during twilight - a serious problem given that potentially hazardous asteroids and many objects in the solar system are best seen during this time. The satellites thus limit the ability of astronomers to observe them.

    他的初步结果表明,在暮光之城避开卫星将很困难,这是一个严重的问题,因为在这段时间内最好地看到潜在危险的小行星和太阳系中的许多物体。因此,卫星限制了天文学家观察它们的能力。

    And Dr. Tyson’s early simulations also confirm the potential problems, demonstrating that over the course of a full year, the giant telescope wouldn’t be able to dodge these satellites 20 percent of the time. Instead, those images would be effectively ruined.

    泰森博士的早期模拟也证实了潜在的问题,这表明在整整一年的时间里,这架巨型望远镜将无法20%地躲避这些卫星。相反,这些图像将被有效破坏。

    Team is go for launch of 60 Starlink sats tomorrow-heaviest payload to date, first re-flight of a fairing, and first Falcon 9 to fly a fourth mission. Watching 1 sat that may not orbit raise; if not, 100% of its components will quickly burn up in Earth’s atmosphere pic.twitter.com/OrI8L0ntFK

    团队将在明天发射60架Starlink卫星,这是迄今为止最重的载荷,是首次整流罩的重新飞行,也是首架执行第四次任务的猎鹰9号。看着可能没有升起轨道的1个卫星;否则,其100%的成分将在地球大气层中迅速燃烧。pic.twitter.com/OrI8L0ntFK

    - SpaceX (@SpaceX) November 11, 2019

    - SpaceX(@SpaceX)2019年11月11日

    SpaceX’s 30,000 satellites might also just be the start as other companies, such as Amazon, Telesat and OneWeb, plan to launch similar mega-constellations.

    SpaceX的30,000颗卫星也可能只是开始,因为其他公司(例如Amazon,Telesat和OneWeb)计划发射类似的巨型星座。

    “If there are lots and lots of bright moving objects in the sky, it tremendously complicates our job,” Dr. Lowenthal said. “It potentially threatens the science of astronomy itself.”

    洛文塔尔博士说:“如果天空中有很多明亮的运动物体,那将极大地使我们的工作复杂化。” “它潜在地威胁着天文学本身。”

    Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who closely tracks objects in orbit, agrees.

    哈佛-史密森天体物理学中心的天文学家乔纳森·麦克道威尔(Jonathan McDowell)对此表示赞同。

    “There is a point at which it makes ground-based astronomy impossible to do,” he said. “I’m not saying Starlink is that point. But if you just don’t worry about it and go another 10 years with more and more mega-constellations, eventually you are going to come to a point where you can’t do astronomy anymore. And so let’s talk about it now.”

    他说:“在某种程度上,它使地面天文学无法完成。” “我并不是说Starlink就是这一点。但是,如果您只是不担心它,并且又用越来越多的巨型星座再走了10年,那么最终您将到达无法再进行天文学的地步。因此,让我们现在谈论它。”

    While astronomers are starting those conversations, they have little legal recourse. There are no regulations in place to protect the skies against light pollution.

    当天文学家开始这些对话时,他们几乎没有法律追索权。没有保护天空免受光污染的法规。

    “International space law is pretty wide open,” said Megan Donahue, an astronomer at Michigan State University and the president of the American Astronomical Society. While many astronomers have been concerned about radio interference and space debris, she says light pollution is a bigger concern because there are no rules in place. That means any path forward relies on the good will of SpaceX and other companies.

    密歇根州立大学的天文学家,美国天文学会会长梅根·多纳休(Megan Donahue)说:“国际空间法是相当开放的。”她说,尽管许多天文学家一直在关注无线电干扰和太空碎片,但由于没有相关规定,光污染是一个更大的问题。这意味着任何前进的道路都取决于SpaceX和其他公司的良好意愿。

    “It’s more of a philosophical question,” Dr. Donahue said. “It kind of boils down to: How much do I trust corporate good will, and how much would a corporation care about the opinion of people who care about science and astronomy?”

    多纳休博士说:“这更多是一个哲学问题。” “归结为:我对公司的善意有多大的信任?公司对关心科学和天文学的人们的意见有多大兴趣?”

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