Feb 202022

Engineers sometimes have to deal with unexpected challenges. This is especially true for systems that have to operate in a natural environment, subject to the elements, unpredictable weather, and, well, wildlife.

Take these beautiful Starlink satellite dishes. Little technological marvels that bring Internet service to rural users through Musk’s Starlink satellite constellation. Key to the system is a steerable small satellite dish that can be set up, e.g., in the backyard of the Starlink customer.

Unfortunately electronics ultimately converts electrical energy into waste heat, and the Starlink dish is no exception. The dish actually has a “snow melt” mode that is supposed to keep it free of snow and ice for uninterrupted operation. And it certainly has a comfy shape… especially when you are a feral cat in the middle of winter.

I doubt this issue was ever considered by Starlink engineers who designed the customer equipment. On the other hand, I would not be surprised if, in the future, engineering courses end up using this as an example of the unexpected, facing engineers.

 Posted by at 5:31 pm