Wednesday, 20 February, 2019


A Chinese city plans to replace street lights with its own moon

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Kristine Garrett | 19 October, 2018, 00:43

City officials recently announced plans to build an artificial moon, launching it to hang over Sichuan province's capital city by 2020, Chinese news site People's Daily Online (PDO) reported.

The idea is the brainchild of Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute. According to an article in People's Daily, the artificial moon is "designed to complement the moon at night", though it would be eight times as bright. However, the exact details of the spacecraft, the launch date and how the artificial moon would be maintained were not revealed. The fake moon will supposedly be able to light up an area up to about 50 miles in diameter, and also be remotely controllable for light precision.

A Chinese city is exhausted of relying on electricity and the regular old moon to provide lights around town at night. But little is known about the height, size and true brightness of the proposed artificial moon - all of which are factors that could affect its visibility to distant observers. As Fortune's Don Reisinger notes, Chengdu officials hope the project will generate a financial windfall, allowing the city to cut electricity costs and attract tourists.

Asia Times reports that the satellite would have a "highly reflective coating to reflect light from the sun with solar panel-like wings whose angles can be adjusted".

However, one of those involved in the project, Kang Weimin, director of the Institute of Optics, School of Aerospace, Harbin Institute of Technology, said this was not the case.

Giulio Calenne of Chinese commerce outlet CIFnews writes that the idea has raised concerns amongst those who fear the artificial light could have adverse effects on wildlife and astronomical observation.

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

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