Astronomers Tally the Growing Carbon Footprint of Space Science

For generations, astronomers have spent lonely evenings at remote mountaintop observatories peering at stars and planets as they whirl overhead. Today’s astronomy, however, is being conducted on a more massive scale: Huge arrays of receivers continually feed signals into power-hungry supercomputers, and multibillion-dollar spacecraft take years to build and tons of rocket fuel to launch. Next-generation ground-based observatories will be enormous, such as the Extremely Large Telescope, which will eclipse the size of the Colosseum in Rome when it is completed in 2024.

Now some researchers are thinking about the carbon footprint of modern astronomy and realizing that they, like everyone else,

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