Skip to comments.Russian startup wants to put ads in low-Earth orbit to ruin the sky for everybody
Posted on 01/17/2019 4:07:04 AM PST by vannrox
Putting aside the fact that advertising is already ubiquitous, the notion of adding a significant source of light pollution to the night sky has astronomers professional and amateur alike fuming.
The startup is called StartRocket, and it hopes to use an array of tiny cubesats to create a programmable display in the night sky.
Orbiting at a low-Earth altitude of 400-500 kilometres (248-310 miles), according to the startups website, these satellites would each bear a collapsible sail that is capable of reflecting the light of the Sun to form a single pixel.
Because it would be dependent on the Sun, it would only be able to display at dawn and dusk.
All up, the billboard would have an area of 50 square kilometres (19 square miles). This Orbital Display, as it is being called, could then be programmed to display logos to people around the globe, for 6-minute intervals, around 3 or 4 times a day theoretically, at least.
We are ruled by brands and events, project leader Vlad Sitnikov told Futurism.
The Super Bowl, Coca Cola, Brexit, the Olympics, Mercedes, FIFA, Supreme and the Mexican wall. The economy is the blood system of society. Entertainment and advertising are at its heart.
We will live in space, and humankind will start delivering its culture to space. The more professional and experienced pioneers will make it better for everyone.
But, as the response indicates, better is a matter of opinion, mainly because of the light pollution the Orbital Display would generate.
Its a threat to the ability to do astronomical research from the ground, astronomer John Barentine of the International Dark Sky Association told Astronomy.com. Every one of those moving blips of light in the night sky is something that can interfere with our ability to collect photons from astronomical sources.
In the short term, the system would increase the number of satellites in space, which in turn increases the risk of collision.
But it is worth noting that, while space junk is a pretty big problem, the Orbital Display wouldnt add to it long-term. At the chosen altitude, the satellites orbit would decay in a year or so, hopefully burning up harmlessly on reentry as they returned to Earth.
But the light pollution issue isnt a small one. And were not sure Sitnokovs suggestion to do peeing or making your coffee while the display is on is the most helpful one, given how time-sensitive astronomical observations can be.
For no reason at all, heres what it looks like when a satellite goes through Hubbles field of view whilst you are trying to image something in the distant solar system. pic.twitter.com/eLWR1ncdqx
Alex Parker (@Alex_Parker) January 25, 2018
The company isnt the only one trying to send wacky things into low-Earth orbit. Take Chinas weird artificial Moon to serve as a replacement for streetlights, one of the strangest energy-saving measures we think weve ever heard.
Or a Japanese proposal to launch satellites that will rain down artificial meteor showers, so you dont have to sit around waiting for a real one.
Nevertheless, none have been solidified at this stage not these other proposals, nor the Orbital Display.
The system has yet to be tested (the startup has plans to do so as early as this year), has yet to be funded, and has yet to be approved according to local and international laws and regulations.
The team says that they have managed to overcome the technical challenges associated with flying an array of satellites in formation, and the drag introduced by the sails; however, that remains to be seen.
As to whether it can meet space regulations well, those are significantly outdated, so theres a good chance that it could.
Lets keep our fingers crossed that the company is vastly exaggerating its technical prowess.
“Vote for Trump” ???
Welp, that’s not going to cause late night target practice or anything.
Offer a prize to shoot it down. Entrepreneurs Musk, Branson, etc. will see this as sport as compete to see who can be first.
Is this the part where Astronomers turn into Terrorists?
My neighbors’ dusk-to-dawn lights already tick me off because they “ruin the night sky”
sorry, I’m not normally against free enterprise but this, if I get a vote - no! The normal light pollution is already too much. My neighbor whose driveway I use for my 18” Obsession telescope just added a bunch of ground lights so I have to take bags there to cover them. (My house has too many trees around limiting the overhead dome.) So I don’t want to be viewing a planet or Messier object while some idiotic luminescent billboard floats through the lens.
Not just that, but with almost all ads currently you can avoid them. If these @$$holes are allowed to paint the sky with this crap we won’t ever be able to escape unless we stay indoors.
Most people can’t see anything in the sky anyway. It’s a waste of money.
Santa and his sleigh?
Drink Your Ovaltine
Lol... That was my thought. I can see a revival of the model rocket hobby in an extreme way.
You need to upgrade to a 22 or a 25 and go out where it is really dark (Oke-Tex star party is a good one). I’d save up for one myself, but, I am retiring soon, and, we’re going traveling on our sailboat. I don’t think I could get a 22 on the boat. I hope to buy a small table top dob, or, a small schmit-cas on a tripod to use when we stop at an island.
I’ve a buddy with a 22” new style Obsession. I enjoy it when he shares.
I’ve a 12.5 homemade (not by me) that I love. I can assemble it in about 10 minutes and it’s ready to go. Just wish it had a finder instead of a tel-rad. As it is, it does have a Sky-Commander, but, I really prefer the hunt for objects with a good finder and some patience.
No further pollution of our skies please. There is so much man-made detritus from our space faring that is endangering current endeavors. Loose nuts and bolts in orbit have to be tracked at high expense. Some jerk proposed putting an ad on the moon itself. Enough of this crap!
I thought occasionally about the 20" but wanted the UC design. Then I thought about the 22" but I didn't want to have to use a step ladder for much of the viewing. I've gone through almost all the Messier objects when using it. I just wish there was less light pollution where I use it but it is within walking distance from my house.
It took me about a half hour to get everything packed into my car and same to get out and another 20 minutes to set up then half an hour to drive to somewhere with less light pollution. All in for packing and traveling I figure a minimum of 2 hours shot, granted the first hour can be done before sunset but you aren't always sure what the night sky will look like until the sunsets. With the shroud the light itself doesn't make much difference for viewing but makes it difficult for me to spot the typical nightsky landmarks to align the scope to. It has the Tel-rad which took me a little time getting used to but I'm ok with it as opposed to the old cross hairs finder scope I had.
But if you don't have one, the portability isn't as good as their videos make it appear. The mirror box base alone weighs almost 100 lbs and putting it into the back of my BMW X5 strains my back.
You might want to be cautious which dob you buy if you are planning to use it near salt water. I remember reading some of the details about a Mak-Cas that said NOT to use it if you were near a body of saltwater - just something to think about.
I know it’s heavy. My buddy uses a small trailer for his 22. UC (Ultra Compact) I couldn’t remember the name.
You wouldn’t happen to be in the Tampa area? The St Pete Astronomy Club is a GREAT group. They are having a Star party at Dade City in about 2 weeks. Not the darkest skies, but, it’s always fun!
One other thing. Look into the Astronomical Leagues Viewing Clubs. Specially the Urban Astronomy one. 100 items that you can see in light polluted skies. (If you can see the Milky Way in any form, it’s too dark). It has Messier objects (including galaxies), clusters, nebula, and multiple star systems. It will keep you busy as you can’t use goto or digital circles to find them to qualify.
I did this with my 10” Newt a few years ago in my back yard (when we had one). I had 2 lights overhanging my back yard. One I could block by using a tree, the other with a beach umbrella on a tall poll. It gave me about 20 sq feet of shadow.
As for the boat, any scope I get will have to fit in a water proof toolbox. We’ve lived aboard for 4 years now and know what and what not to leave out! :D Besides, I live in coastal Georgia, it’s salty everywhere. We use to go out on the pier at the beach and do “guerilla astronomy”, no problems with salt there either and we were over the waves.
Several years we did an Astronomy Day program out on the pier. We won the competition all of those years, going up against the Hayden Planetarium and the nations of Ireland and Iran. It can be done.
Not unless your range is in hundreds of miles.
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