SpaceX Starlink satellites have astronomers amplifying the cosmic alarm

Sci-Tech Elon Musk Space SpaceX 23 Photos This image of a distant galaxy group from Arizona’s Lowell Observatory is marred by diagonal lines from the trails of Starlink satellites shortly after their launch in May. Victoria Girgis/Lowell Observatory The world’s largest organization of professional astronomers is sounding the galactic alarm over Elon Musk’s plan to send a swarm of SpaceX satellites into low-Earth orbit. Almost immediately after a Falcon 9 rocket released the first batch of the company’s Starlink broadband internet satellites last month, stargazers were dismayed by just how bright and noticeable the train of orbiting routers is in the night sky. Now the concern has moved from chatter on social media to a more formal call for new government regulation from the International Astronomical Union. In a statement Monday, the IAU said large satellite constellations like Starlink could have unforeseen consequences for advancing our understanding of the universe and the protection of nocturnal wildlife. “We do not yet understand the impact of thousands of these visible satellites scattered across the night sky and despite their good intentions, these satellite constellations may threaten both,” the statement reads. The IAU shared the above image, which shows bars of light from Starlink satellite trails in the field of view captured by Arizona’s Lowell Observatory. The trails obscure the view of galaxy group NGC 5353/4.  Comments Every Elon Musk project right now Tags There are already 4900 satellites in orbit, which people notice ~0% of the time. Starlink won’t be seen by anyone unless looking very carefully & will have ~0% impact on advancements in astronomy. We need to move telelscopes to orbit anyway. Atmospheric attenuation is terrible. pic.twitter.com/OuWYfNmw0D— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 27, 2019 8 Originally published June 4.  “Although this image serves as an illustration of the impact of reflections from satellite constellations, please note that the density of these satellites is significantly higher in the days after launch,” the organization explained. A SpaceX spokesperson added via email that “the observability of the Starlink satellites is dramatically reduced as they raise orbit to greater distance and orient themselves with the phased array antennas toward Earth and their solar arrays behind the body of the satellite.” Nonetheless, should SpaceX deploy all the Starlink satellites it is permitted for, it would more than double the amount of satellites currently orbiting Earth, with some being granted permission to orbit at even lower orbits than originally conceived. The IAU, which represents over 13,000 astronomers, called for satellite constellation operators and astronomers to work together more closely and urged “appropriate agencies to devise a regulatory framework to mitigate or eliminate the detrimental impacts on scientific exploration as soon as practical.” Are SpaceX Starlink satellites ruining the night sky? For its part, SpaceX has already been coordinating with the US National Science Foundation, which oversees the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. “After working closely with SpaceX, NSF has finalized a coordination agreement to ensure the company’s Starlink satellite network plans will meet international radio astronomy protection standards, limiting interference in this radio astronomy band,” the NSF said in a statement Tuesday. Elon Musk also hinted at a possible long-term solution on Twitter: “We need to move telelscopes (sic) to orbit anyway.” 2:57 Now playing: Watch this: Share your voice read more

Trump Says Nobody Knows If An Immigration Deal Can Happen

first_img Share Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesPresident Trump presides over a meeting about immigration with Republican and Democratic members of Congress earlier this month.Updated at 3:20 p.m. ETThe federal government is back open for business on Tuesday, but the immigration fight that brought it to a three-day shutdown is far from over.On Monday, Congress passed a stopgap spending bill that funds the government through Feb. 8, with Democrats crossing over to back the measure in exchange for assurances that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., would bring an immigration bill to the floor. McConnell said he would pursue legislation to address the legal status of roughly 700,000 immigrants protected by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which will expire in March, as well as border security and other issues.President Trump weighed in on Twitter on Tuesday morning to congratulate his staff for their work over the past several days, after much chatter about how little the president himself was involved in the dealmaking. Trump also acknowledged the big task ahead on working out an immigration deal in 16 days.Thank you to General John Kelly, who is doing a fantastic job, and all of the Staff and others in the White House, for a job well done. Long hours and Fake reporting makes your job more difficult, but it is always great to WIN, and few have won more than us!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 23, 2018Congress also needs to agree on a long-term funding plan, which is thought to be close at hand, but there are several reasons why finding a bipartisan solution on immigration is far from easy.To begin with, Trump has been inconsistent on what kind of immigration bill he would sign, despite an insistence otherwise from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday. The broad framework is that, in exchange for a permanent fix for DACA, the president wants funding for the border wall he touted frequently during the campaign, along with an end to what he calls chain migration — or legal immigrants bringing other family members to the U.S. — and an end to the visa lottery system.But when Trump held a bipartisan discussion with lawmakers earlier this month, he signaled that he would sign whatever bill Congress sent him, even if he wasn’t “in love with” it and that he would take any backlash from both sides. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said that he offered Trump funding for his border wall on Friday, hours before the shutdown started, as part of a deal for DACA protections but that Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, later called to say the deal was off.Schumer reiterated Tuesday that the wall was now off the table, and argued that Trump’s inability to negotiate was what had led to the shutdown in the first place.Tensions were already inflamed after Trump reportedly used a vulgarity to refer to African countries and disparaged Haiti during a discussion of U.S. visa and immigration policies with a bipartisan group of senators earlier this month.On Monday, Sanders wouldn’t commit to Trump’s supporting a path to citizenship, instead of simply a legal status for the “DREAMers.” That is the common name given to those who are in the U.S. illegally after entering the country as children. For Democrats, and even some Republicans, a status short of citizenship could be a nonstarter.And even if a bill passes the Senate, it could have a much tougher time in the House, where Republicans say they will not be bound by any deal made in the Senate. The last time the Senate passed a major immigration overhaul bill, in 2013, it died a year later in the House.Trump did meet with six GOP senators on Monday to discuss “the next steps on responsible immigration reform.” That group included immigration hard-liners such as Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and David Perdue, R-Ga., who were not members of the bipartisan group that has been working to find a solution palpable to both sides. Not in attendance were Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who are part of the bipartisan group, but Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., who has spoken out in favor of protecting DACA recipients, was there.Graham — once a strident opponent of Trump’s who has developed a cozy relationship with the president over the past few months — said over the weekend that he is skeptical of many of the president’s advisers, especially White House senior policy aide Stephen Miller, who push Trump in a conservative direction on immigration as soon as he seems to want a compromise.The president also conferred with two conservative Democrats at the White House on Monday, Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and the newly elected Doug Jones of Alabama. Upon returning to the Capitol, they said that specifics weren’t discussed but sounded optimistic that an immigration deal could be reached.“I think he’s very much committed to relieving this DACA challenge that we all have. I don’t think anyone wants to be in it, no one is insensitive about that. In talking with his chief of staff, Gen. Kelly, I’m just hopeful we can find that pathway forward. … The House is going to have to do their thing, but the Senate is in a position to move forward, and he’s hoping that they’ll come to something that they can all live with,” said Manchin, who faces a tough re-election campaign in November. He’s one of 10 Democrats running again in states that Trump won in 2016.Further direct talks with Trump may have to wait. He is slated to travel to Davos, Switzerland, this week for the World Economic Forum. The president’s first State of the Union address on Jan. 30 provides him a highly visible opportunity to expand on what he wants in a bill, just over a week before the critical deadline.While some Democrats and progressive groups said that Schumer “caved,” more moderate lawmakers expressed optimism that McConnell would keep his promise to bring a bill to the floor. That is despite the fact that he hasn’t yet fulfilled pledges to other lawmakers in exchange for their votes in December on the GOP tax bill.“It’s one thing to make a promise behind closed doors in a conversation. It’s another thing to be before C-SPAN and before the whole world saying, ‘I will bring a bill forward, it will be neutral, it will be an open, level playing field.’ That’s a commitment,” Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, who caucuses with Democrats, told NPR’s All Things Considered on Monday.Speaking after Senate lunches on Tuesday, McConnell also stood behind his promise.“I intend to keep my word,” the majority leader said.Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.last_img read more

Saturn found to have noontime auroras

first_img Auroras on Earth occur when magnetic reconnections (magnetic fields colliding) cause solar flares on the sun. When it happens, plasma carrying a magnetic field is shot out into space, some of which makes its way to Earth. When it collides with our planet’s magnetic field, auroras occur. The same process has been observed on Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus.In this new effort, the researchers were studying data sent back from the Cassini spacecraft, which orbited Saturn for 13 years. They were looking specifically at data that would provide more information regarding magnetic reconnections on the planet—prior research had shown that they occur on the dayside of the magnetopause (the point where the planet’s magnetic field meets the solar wind). There was also evidence that they occur on the nightside of its magnetodisk, which is a plasma ring formed near the equator by water and other materials emitted from its moons. But prior research had also suggested that there would be no reconnections on the dayside of the planet’s magnetodisk because the solar winds made the ot too thick for them to occur. But the researchers found evidence of reconnections in the magnetodisk at noontime anyway. The researchers suggest this apparent anomaly is likely due to Saturn’s high spin rate (a day is just 10 hours). The high rate, they note, likely compresses the magnetodisk , making it thin enough for reconnections to occur. The team also suggests that the reconnections they measured appear to be strong enough to create auroras.The researchers suggest that their findings indicate that unknown auroras might be happening on other planets as well, but have been overlooked because planet spin speed was not factored into calculations. They further suggest that similar reconnections might also be behind some unexplained pulses seen from Jupiter. Journal information: Nature Astronomy More information: R. L. Guo et al. Rotationally driven magnetic reconnection in Saturn’s dayside, Nature Astronomy (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41550-018-0461-9AbstractMagnetic reconnection is a key process that explosively accelerates charged particles, generating phenomena such as nebular flares, solar flares and stunning aurorae. In planetary magnetospheres, magnetic reconnection has often been identified on the dayside magnetopause and in the nightside magnetodisc, where thin-current-sheet conditions are conducive to reconnection. The dayside magnetodisc is usually considered thicker than the nightside due to the compression of solar wind, and is therefore not an ideal environment for reconnection. In contrast, a recent statistical study of magnetic flux circulation strongly suggests that magnetic reconnection must occur throughout Saturn’s dayside magnetosphere. Additionally, the source of energetic plasma can be present in the noon sector of giant planetary magnetospheres. However, so far, dayside magnetic reconnection has only been identified at the magnetopause. Here, we report direct evidence of near-noon reconnection within Saturn’s magnetodisc using measurements from the Cassini spacecraft. The measured energetic electrons and ions (ranging from tens to hundreds of keV) and the estimated energy flux of ~2.6 mW m–2 within the reconnection region are sufficient to power aurorae. We suggest that dayside magnetodisc reconnection can explain bursty phenomena in the dayside magnetospheres of giant planets, which can potentially advance our understanding of quasi-periodic injections of relativistic electrons6 and auroral pulsations.Press release: phys.org/wire-news/289642898/m … anetary-differe.html Hubble spots auroras on Uranus This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Citation: Saturn found to have noontime auroras (2018, June 5) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-06-saturn-noontime-auroras.htmlcenter_img © 2018 Phys.org Explore further An international team of researchers has found that Saturn’s fast rotation speed makes it possible for the planet to experience noontime auroras. In their paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy, the group describes the factors that lead to creation of auroras and how Saturn’s appear to arise. Credit: University College Londonlast_img read more