Russian scientists have a plan to change the night sky forever, and not for the better
'An unrealistic idea as it may first seem, space advertising turns out to have a potential for commercial viability,' said researchers
MOSCOW, RUSSIA: According to a recent Russian study, "opening up the sky" for new-age advertisements could be a practical and viable option. However, many experts believe that it is a good example of how ignorant we human beings can be when it comes to our planet. Everyone is jumping into this argument since the new paper was published in Aerospace, where it studied "economic feasibility of a space advertising mission that would launch a formation of satellites into orbit to reflect sunlight and display commercials in the sky above cities,” as per Skoltech press release.
In this direction, Shamil Biktimirov, a research intern at Skoltech’s Engineering Centre, came up first to explore this direction. “An unrealistic idea as it may first seem, space advertising turns out to have a potential for commercial viability,” the researchers found in their study.
Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, wrote to Gizmodo in an email, “It will not surprise you to learn that I am not a fan.” He explained, the "bright advertising messages themselves will be localized to urban areas," but the "brightness of these solar sail satellites will still be substantial in other places and times," which is something the Russian researchers didn’t consider. McDowell further said, “The entire idea of this kind of inescapable space-borne advertising is fundamentally dystopian.”
The Russian researchers, in full anticipation of this kind of negative response, defended their idea, saying the "ads would only appear at dawn or dusk (the CubeSats require at least some exposure to sunlight to become bright and visible) and that the space-based ads only make economic sense for 'large cities that are already exposed to permanent light pollution.'"
The team of authors suggests that "the ads appear above the most profitable city within reach for a full minute before moving on to the site. This would be possible as the satellites would be placed in circular Sun-synchronous orbits that straddle the day-night boundary." The core group further understands, “This type of orbit“ guarantees that formation satellites will always be lit by the Sun, and its access area will constantly include points on Earth where the lighting condition is satisfied.”
The researchers found that around $2 million in advertising revenue can be generated while adopting this approach. That will allow cover all the expenses incurred in the process to be written off in just about a month. The scientists also made a case for a single fleet of CubeSats "could operate in this fashion for 'several months' depending on the configuration."