China to launch artificial moon to light up streets

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Beijing: After seeing a Tesla Roadster launch into space (thanks to Elon Musk), it is time to witness an artificial moon. Yes, Chinese city Chengdu is planning to launch its own artificial moon as part of an effort to replace street lights.

Basically, the man-made moon will be a satellite designed for the purpose of illumination. The artificial moon will stay in orbit and complement the light of the real one at night with super-high illumination.

It will take to the skies like a normal satellite and provide eight times more brightness than the real moon.

The artificial moon’s illumination, as China’s People’s Daily described “will cover an area spanning 10 to 80 kilometers, but precise lightning could be controlled within tens of meters”.

The man-made moon, as Asia Times reported “would use solar-panel like wings and a reflective coating to redirect sunlight and focus it onto the city. It will be visible in the night sky to people in China and other parts of the world.

The details of the man-made moon were revealed by Wu Chunfeng, the Chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co (Casc), at a recent mass innovation and entrepreneurship event in the city.

Wu said, “The work on the fake moon has been on for years, but now, the technology has matured enough for a launch in 2020.”

The idea of a man-made moon comes from a French artist who imagined a necklace of mirrors above Earth, reflecting sunlight on to the streets of Paris. However, it is worth noting this is not a completely new idea.

Back in the 90s, Russia also launched orbiting mirrors over Siberia, but the project, dubbed Znamya, was discontinued due to deployment failure.

Though bright light could easily affect human body clocks and confuse nocturnal and day-dwelling animals, Kang Weimin of the Harbin Institute of Technology says the man-made moon being developed will only produce a dusk-like glow, creating no such problems.

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