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Legal threat to ‘mega-constellations’?

February 6, 2020

By Chris Forrester

Michele Maris, a research astronomer at Italy’s Trieste Astronomical Observatory, believes it may be time to mount a legal action against the likes of Elon Musk’s SpaceX and the UK’s OneWeb because of the damage being done to the night sky.

Maris is part of a group of astronomers who say that the deployment of these low orbiting satellites should be stopped because of their high visibility in the night sky.

“The ideal thing would be to stop the deployment of these kind of satellites until the problem is very well studied. We have to understand what the impact is on the sky,” he stated.

SpaceX’s Starlink satellites have created bright streaks in some night images and badly affecting astronomical observations. Some worry that having thousands of bright points of light could alter the sky for the public and astronomers forever.

Maris’ protest group, according to a report in the New Scientist-magazine, said: “The harm here is damage to our cultural heritage, the night sky, and monetary damages due to the loss of radio and other types of astronomy.”

The group also suggests a case could be filed against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the US for licensing Starlink, which the group says may have been in breach of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

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