There's a couple of startups and initiatives which are proposing "space billboards" which have been getting a lot of bad press recently. Most of the proposals involve a bunch of cubesats with large reflective sails or what are basically large disco-balls in orbit. For example, when asked about the Humanity Star art installation, Columbia University professor David Kippin tweeted that:
This is stupid, vandalizes the night sky and corrupts our view of the cosmos
From what I've seen most of the criticism for these types of ventures fall into three categories:
- People worried about a buildup of orbital debris
- Scientists complaining about these types of satellites making science harder
- Conservationists who want to protect the sanctity of the night sky
I'm wondering how many of these concerns are actually grounded in reality. From what I can tell, scientists aren't up in arms about Iridium flares or other satellites and the flare of the Humanity Star was pretty anticlimactic.
- Are there any documented cases of satellites, planes, or space stations ruining astronomical science?
- How long would such an orbital billboard be visible in the night sky per night?