Space had too harsh weather conditions for recent Starlink communications satellite update.
40 Starlink satellites doomed: SpaceX reported last night that 40 of the 49 Starlink satellites launched to low Earth orbit on February 3 are now doomed by a geomagnetic storm. SpaceX said: “The satellites deployed on Thursday were significantly impacted by a geomagnetic storm on Friday … Preliminary analyses show the increased drag at the low altitudes prevented the satellites from leaving safe-mode to begin orbit raising maneuvers … up to 40 of the satellites will reenter or already have reentered the Earth’s atmosphere.” It seems that those 40 satellites are burning up on re-entry.
Preliminary analysis show the increased drag at the low altitudes prevented the satellites from leaving safe-mode to begin orbit raising maneuvers, and up to 40 of the satellites will reenter or already have reentered the Earth’s atmosphere. The deorbiting satellites pose zero collision risk with other satellites and by design demise upon atmospheric reentry—meaning no orbital debris is created and no satellite parts hit the ground.
SpaceX has launched more than 2,000 Starlink satellites since 2018, and has plans to launch a total of at least 12,000 as part of a plan to offer high-speed satellite internet across the globe.
A geomagnetic storm is a major disturbance of Earth’s magnetosphere that occurs when there is a very efficient exchange of energy from the solar wind into the space environment surrounding Earth. These storms result from variations in the solar wind that produces major changes in the currents, plasmas, and fields in Earth’s magnetosphere. During storms, the currents in the ionosphere, as well as the energetic particles that precipitate into the ionosphere add energy in the form of heat that can increase the density and distribution of density in the upper atmosphere, causing extra drag on satellites in low-earth orbit. A geomagnetic storm can also modify the path of radio signals and create errors in the positioning information provided by GPS and disturb other satellite communications. A very strong geomagnetic storm can also cause problems to electrical power distribution networks because of the (nearly direct) currents induced in the power transmission lines from geomagnetic storms can be harmful to electrical transmission equipment, especially transformers.
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