Recently, Russia managed to put a satellite into orbit that will become one of our brightest stars for a few days and could interfere with astronomical observations.
This satellite is called Mayak, Mayak was developed by MAMU.
“The launch of the satellite was completed successfully and we are waiting for the North American Command to monitor it,” Alexander Panov of the Mayak project told IFLScience. “Everything is going according to plan, no further information is available.”
Mayak is a cubesat, a small satellite. But when it is 600 km above the Earth’s surface, it deploys a large pyramid-shaped sail made of Mylar, designed to reflect sunlight.
Klyuchnikova said she hoped the satellite would be opened in the coming days and that she would monitor it next week from the Caucasus, on the border between Europe and Asia.
The company that created the satellite says its goal is to inspire people to observe space and also test satellite technology. Through an app on their phone, users can track the satellite’s position and know when it passes overhead.
This satellite will remain in orbit for at least a month, although at a fairly high altitude, a possibility is that this satellite will remain in orbit for several months if its orbit does not deteriorate as expected.
According to this company’s calculations, it will be luminous with a brightness of -10, ranking third only after the Sun and the Moon. However, our calculations indicate that the satellite’s luminosity will be around -3, and it will be the 4th brightest object after Venus.
Anyway, if the satellite is successfully opened, Mayak will certainly cause many problems. The brightness of this satellite can interfere with astronomical observations at night. And that could pose a bigger problem for sky studies and monitoring. This will certainly be a frustrating problem for astronomers as Mayak interferes with their observations.
Some astronomers strongly oppose it, saying it’s just a race. On the other hand, Michael Wood-Vasey of the University of Pittsburgh believes that “Mayak doesn’t really interfere with astronomical observations.”
He added: “Mayak is flying below the date line.” Below where Mayak flies is always sunrise or sunset. It will be too low or even below the horizon when the sky is dark enough for astronomers to observe it.
For its part, the company claims that the mission has a scientific purpose. In addition to lighting, the satellite will also test how to brake in orbit, with the large surface area causing more atmospheric drag and returning it to the atmosphere to burn. This technology could be used in the future to destroy old satellites and space debris.
However, there are certainly other ways to test this technology without causing problems. A satellite (Mayak) might not be a problem, but if it sets a precedent it will be bad.