In a first, China is planning to launch an ‘artificial moon’ to space that will light up skies and will be brighter than the real moon and also act as streetlight replacement.
China is aiming to launch an ‘artificial moon’ by 2020 that will light up skies as far as 50 miles around. The illumination satellite will be deployed over the city of Chengdu and will be eight times as bright as the real moon, casting a ‘dusk-like glow’ over the area, according to People’s Daily.
The plan was revealed by Wu Chunfend, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute. The idea has been inspired from a French artist who envisioned a necklace of mirrors hanging over Earth that could reflect sunshine through the streets of Paris all year round.
When launched, the artificial moon will complement the moon to make Chengdu’s night skies brighter and serve as a replacement to conventional streetlights and light up areas going through power outages caused by natural disasters. The moon can be controlled to light up a region between 10km and 80km wide, reported Daily Mail.
Chinese scientists hope to send three artificial moons to space in the next four years with the moons expected to orbit at 500km above Earth. The three would operate alternately for greatly decreasing infrastructural electricity consumption, especially during winter. Chunfend even said that it could cut down costs. Lighting from the artificial moon covering 50sq km in Chengdu could save about 1.2 billion yuan ($240 million) in electricity costs every year, wrote ABC News.
Chunfend informed that the technology has been in development for years and has now ‘matured’ toward completion. Despite already being criticized from concerned people arguing that the light will have adverse effect on animals and astronomical observations, Kang Weimin, director of the Institute of Optics, School of Aerospace, Harbin Institute of Technology, claimed that the light will amount only to a ‘dusk-like glow’ and won’t affect animals’ routine, wrote The Guardian.