On Friday, a geomagnetic storm caused approximately 40 of the 49 Starlink low-earth orbit satellites to be “significantly impacted,” according to Elon Musk‘s SpaceX.
Starlink satellites were significantly impacted by a geomagnetic storm
“These storms cause the atmosphere to warm and atmospheric density at our low deployment altitudes to increase. In fact, onboard GPS suggests the escalation speed and severity of the storm caused atmospheric drag to increase up to 50 percent higher than during previous launches.”
The SpaceX team ordered the satellites into a safe mode to “take cover from the storm” so they would “fly edge-on like a sheet of paper to minimize drag,” according to the company.
Also, the company notes that:
“Preliminary analysis show the increased drag at the low altitudes prevented the satellites from leaving safe-mode to begin orbit raising maneuvers, and up to 40 of the satellites will re-enter or already have re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere.”
Deorbited satellites pose no collision risk to other spacecraft and, by design, disintegrate in the atmosphere—therefore generating no orbital debris and no satellite parts will hit the ground.