China to launch its own 'artificial moon' to light up streets

Doug Carpenter
October 19, 2018

"Wu introduced that the brightness of the "artificial moon" is eight times that of the real moon, and will be bright enough to replace street lights", the paper reported.

So the city of Chengdu hopes instead to launch a better and brighter artificial moon that could be bright enough to replace street lights. Not satisfied with the meager light the Moon reflects back down to Earth at night, scientists in the region plan to launch a satellite that will actually reflect sunlight back down to Earth and turn night into day... sort of.

Speaking at an entrepreneur conference, Wu said the satellite will allow the light to be carefully controlled and kept to an area 10-80 kilometres (around 6-50 miles) in diameter.

It will complement the moon to make Chengu's night skies brighter when it launches in 2020, potentially serving as a replacement to conventional streetlights.

Officials have released few details on the project, but say the idea pulls inspiration from a French artist who envisioned a necklace of mirrors hanging over Earth.

Although Chengdu, capital of China's Sichuan province, is set to be the man-made moon's focus, astronomers across the globe will reportedly be able to spot the satellite's glow as they search the night sky.

According to Independent UK, Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu aerospace science and technology microelectronics system research institute, disclosed this at a national mass innovation and entrepreneurship activity held in the city.

Some people expressed concern that the lights reflected from space could have adverse effects on the daily routine of certain animals and astronomical observation.

Another Russian attempt to launch a space mirror in 1999 fizzled before it got off the ground, according to The Guardian.

The likelihood that the moon will ever rise in the skies above Chengdu has already been dismissed by some skeptics - but the Chinese are not the first to come up with the ambitious idea.

The device, dubbed Znamya 2, collapsed soon after take-off and was subsequently abandoned.

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