Astronomy is under threat by radio interference from satellites – here's what can be done about it

A radio telescope observing surface at Green Bank

The problem of radio pollution continues to grow. Image: REUTERS/NRAO

Christopher Gordon De Pree
Deputy Electromagnetic Spectrum Manager, National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Christopher R. Anderson
Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering, United States Naval Academy
Mariya Zheleva
Assistant Professor of Computer Science, University at Albany, State University of New York
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A graphic showing radio type wavelength and approximate scale of wavelength at different frequencys.
Different telescopes capture different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. Image: The Conversation.

A graphic showing a black hole.
The first direct image of a black hole was created using the Event Horizon Telescope. Image: The Conversation.

Two images from the Very Large Array in New Mexico show what a faint star looks like to a radio telescope without satellite interference, left, and with satellite interference, right.
Satellite internet networks will eventually be flying over every location on Earth. Image: The Conversation.
A skyline of a city.
The more development there is on Earth and in the sky, the more radio interference there will be. Image: The Conversation.

Brown soil with a mountain in the background.
Most radio telescopes are in areas far from any source of interference. Image: The Conversation.

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