“The Industrialization of Space and Its Threat to Dark Skies”
The rapid deployment of large fleets of broadband communications satellites has the potential to transform the night sky. Where low Earth orbit has heretofore seen a few thousand satellites regularly in operation, there is suddenly the potential for tens of thousands serving many different purposes. Potential impacts include not only a dramatic increase in satellite trails in professional and amateur astronomical data, but an overall brightening of the night sky through diffuse scattering of reflected sunlight. The astronomy community has been working extensively with satellite operators to mitigate the impacts of these satellites, but humanity's shared resource of space is on the brink of an irreversible transformation in its use and appearance. The window of opportunity to manage this transformation thoughtfully is closing rapidly. In this talk, I will review the situation and steps we have and can take to address it.