Published: Thu, October 18, 2018
Science | By

Chinese city wants to launch artificial moon to 'replace streetlights'

Chinese city wants to launch artificial moon to 'replace streetlights'

Officials in China are planning to launch a man-made moon to rest in the sky above the south-western city of Chengdu.

The satellite is due for launch in 2020 and could start work soon after, the paper reported.

Wu Chunfend, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co., Ltd, revealed the plan at an event in the city on Oct 10, People's Daily reports. 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. The artificial moon is made from a reflective coating that can aim the sun's light back to Earth and cover a span of 6 miles to 50 miles. Wu said that his company has been working on developing and building an "artificial moon" for years and that the technology is now finally mature enough to shoot for a 2020 launch.


It is not clear whether the plan has the backing of the city of Chengdu or the Chinese government, though Casc is the main contractor for the Chinese space programme.

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. "Several" proved an overstatement, but the design was shown to be sound. 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.

Of course, artificial lighting is already a contentious issue - potential annoyances at the loss of a night sky aside, these lights have the potential to negatively impact human health, animal routines, and make life harder for astronomers.

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