The Vera C. Rubin Observatory will employ a 3.2-billion-pixel camera to survey the southern sky every four days, starting in 2025. Its Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) will document sources of light all the way to the edge of the observable Universe, but it would also detect interesting objects near Earth. Sources located light-milliseconds away from the telescope might be more interesting than those billions of light years away.

A couple of months ago, I published a calculation showing that LSST would detect objects in Low Earth Orbits (LEO) which are larger than 10-centimeters and reflect more than 10% of the sunlight shining on them. The calculation was refined by the LSST science team in a follow-up paper. It also implies that LSST will document all LEO objects bigger than a meter which reflect more than 0.1% of the sunlight illuminating them. Aside from satellites and space debris, this population of detectable objects could also include Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAPs) in the Earth’s atmosphere. What are these?

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