China plans to replace streetlights with ‘artificial moon’ by 2020

Queqiao, the relay satellite for the Chang'e-4 lunar mission entered the planned halo orbit around the second Lagrangian point of the Earth Moon system about 65,000 km from the Moon on 14 June 2018 at 03:06 UTC (11:0

US Defense Officials Fear Chinese Moon Probe Could Become Anti Satellite Weapon screenshot China Central Television

The plans were reportedly revealed by the Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co.at a Chinese innovation and entrepreneurship event that took place last week.

The illuminated orb is meant to complement the light of Earth's existing moon, and will be eight times brighter than the natural satellite, Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co.

The planned "illumination satellite" would be sent up into space to "complement the moon at night" by shining eight times as bright, reports the People's Daily.

Speaking at an entrepreneur conference, Wu said the satellite will allow the light to be carefully controlled and kept to an area 10-80 kilometres (around 6-50 miles) in diameter. 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.

The artificial moon will have a reflective coating that can deflect sunlight back to Earth, similar to how the moon shines, he said.

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Some experts who support the plan suggest that it'll produce little more than a "twilight glow" that shouldn't change how animals behave, but nobody will know for certain until the satellite is up and running.

According to Chunfeng, Chengdu's streetlights will be replaced with the satellite that will boost the glow of the real moon.

However, Wu stressed that much work still needs to be done, both in terms of scientific feasibility and business models, to tap into the full potential of China's artificial moons.

Based on a report from the People's Daily in China, inspiration came from an unnamed French artist who wanted to hang a necklace made of mirrors up above Earth to reflect sunshine on Paris at night. The scheme used a device known as the Znamya 2, which was equipped with a 25-meter mirror to illuminate a three-mile radius of land.

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