SpaceX is working with the astronomy community to ensure that the company can mitigate the main sources of satellite brightness for the Starlink constellation.
Thanks to the great Sawyer Merritt, we now know that SpaceX is doing some major work behind the scenes with astronomers and observatories.
The company hopes to make the second-generation satellites invisible to the naked eye, no matter the time of day or night.
SpaceX is adding a layer of dielectric mirror film, which is 10x better at reducing observed brightness when compared to their first generation.
In addition, to help the broader satellite community, SpaceX is offering their film at cost as a product on the Starlink website.
The second-generation satellites will also use an internally developed paint called “Low Reflectivity Black”.
This paint has a five-times lower specular peak than the darkest available space stable paint.
This paint will help reduce glints throughout the night as the satellites move and reflect the sun’s rays.
Finally, SpaceX is also aware that there are some times when a satellite is going to be visible.
However, the company is looking to refine satellite attitude and solar array point techniques during orbit rising and deorbiting to help combat brightness.
However, there are still times when they will be visible such as:
- Immediately after launch
- Orbit Raise
- Station Keeping or Collision Avoidance Burns
It will be interesting to track the effect of these new compounds and if SpaceX makes any other minor adjustments before launching.