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Mega-constellations Risk Multiple Tragedies of the Commons

Aaron Boley


Low-Earth orbit is being developed rapidly and unsustainably. Among the principal drivers of this development is the initial construction of so-called mega-constellations, which seek to place tens of thousands of communications satellites into orbit. These systems promise world-wide connectivity on a scale never before seen. However, these same systems risk multiple tragedies of the commons, such as the alteration of the naked-eye night sky, increased radio interference, interference with optical and infrared astronomy, atmospheric pollution from re-entries and launches, debris cascades in LEO, and increased property and casualty hazards from re-entering satellites. In this talk, I will discuss these challenges in turn, as well as some potential options to aid in mitigating the negative effects of mega-constellations. Astronomers are in a unique position, as an influential group of space users who love and appreciate the night sky, to help guide policies that cultivate sustainable practices in the development of space.

Date: Thursday, 25 March 2021
Time: 11:30
Where: Université de Montréal
Contact: Ren? Doyon

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