Chengdu plans to launch ‘artificial moon’ into space to save on electricity

The artificial moon could be floating above China in 2020

Camera Icon The artificial moon could be floating above China

The southwestern city of Chengdu will be the focus of an illumination satellite, reports the People's Daily.

The project was introduced to the public by Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co., Ltd. The company says it will be launching an "illumination satellite" in less than two years, this created to light up the night sky with artificial light 8 times greater than the actual Moon.

Exact details about the new moon and the launch date haven't been released, but Wu said scientists have been working on the idea for years and that technology has finally matured. The city also believes that tourists would be more likely to visit and see how the moon works during the night, according to the report. The artificial moon is expected to light up an area that's 10 to 80 kilometers in diameter.

The articial light emitted would replace streetlights in the Chinese city of Chengdu
Camera Icon The articial light emitted would replace streetlights in the Chinese city

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. 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.

The newspaper credited a French artist for the idea of putting a manmade moon into orbit. The Telegraph's Joseph Archer reports that Russian scientists launched a mirror-equipped spacecraft created to brighten Siberia's sun-deprived streets back in 1999. Still, the underlying concept embraced by the experiment - which The New York Times described at the time as a test of "the feasibility of illuminating points on Earth with light equivalent to that of several full moons" - remains an enticing prospect.

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