If you thought you were seeing advertisements everywhere already, they might soon start polluting the skies, according to a new paper released by researchers.
The new paper published in the journal Aerospace explored the cost and strategies that would need to be put into place to get massive advertisements from brands up in the sky over cities. The researchers from the Moscow-based technical institute Skoltech along with the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, found that a group of satellites of no more than fifty would need to be sent into orbit to create the ad, and that conducting such a mission would only cost approximately $65 million.
The team of researchers explored the technicals of this new form of advertising, called "space advertising", and according to the paper, each of the satellites would need to be considerably large to be able to reflect enough light to produce an image that's visible from Earth. The researchers estimated that a CubeSat satellite would need to sport a solar sail that's approximately 350 square foot and that the satellites wouldn't just showcase one ad from a brand but many different ads - rotating through a timer.
"We've been studying some of the more technical aspects of space advertising for a while now. This time we looked at the economic side of things and, as unrealistic as it may seem, we show that space advertising based on 50 or more small satellites flying in formation could be economically viable," said first author Shamil Biktimirov.
Would these be profitable for brands? That depends on many factors that would need to be taken into account. For example, space advertising only works around sunrise and sunset, as the satellites' solar sails require sunlight to produce the image. Additionally, cloud cover and cold nights forcing people indoors influence the overall revenue.
Furthermore, sending large groups of satellites into space to display ads from prominent brands isn't necessarily supported by astronomers as they are already having trouble with the growing amount of satellites in space photo-bombing their observations of the cosmos.
Despite the issues that engineers would have to overcome to make space advertising feasible, the team behind the paper estimated that a 91-day campaign with a constellation of satellites could generate as much as $111 million after all expenses are paid for.
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