A study reported in Nature, “Satellite mega-constellations create risks in Low Earth Orbit, the atmosphere and on Earth,” in Scientific Reports (May 2021) by Aaron C. Boley and Michael Byers, says the rapid development of mega-constellations risks multiple tragedies of the commons. That could include tragedies to ground-based astronomy, Earth orbit, and Earth’s upper atmosphere. The study asserts that international cooperation is urgently needed, along with a regulatory system that takes into account the effects of tens of thousands of satellites.
“[T]he connections between the Earth and space environments are inadequately taken into account by the adoption of a consumer electronic model applied to space assets,” the authors said. “For example, we point out that satellite re-entries from the Starlink mega-constellation alone could deposit more aluminum into Earth’s upper atmosphere than what is done through meteoroids; they could thus become the dominant source of high-altitude alumina.”
The authors say their study shows that untracked debris will lead to potentially dangerous on-orbit collisions on a regular basis due to the large number of satellites within mega-constellation orbital shells. The total cross-section of satellites in these constellations also greatly increases the risk of impacts due to meteoroids. De facto orbit occupation by single actors, inadequate regulatory frameworks, and the possibility of free-riding exacerbate these risks.
Read more – via American Radio Relay League | Ham Radio Association and Resources http://www.arrl.org/news/view/study-rapid-development-of-satellite-mega-constellations-risks-tragedies-of-the-commons