China Wants To Put An Artificial Moon Into Earth Orbit

Scientists say an artificial moon could provide eight times the light of a real full moon and do away with the need for streetlights

A Chinese city is exhausted of relying on electricity and the regular old moon to provide lights around town at night.

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 artificial or manmade moon is a satellite carrying a huge space mirror, which can reflect the sunlight to the Earth. When a man-made moon is orbiting, people can only see a bright star in the sky.

It also will have solar panel-like wings on its surface which can be adjusted for precise lighting. He explained that their artificial moon will be eight times brighter than Earth's natural moon and be "bright enough to replace street lights in the city".

But according to Kang Weimin, director of the Institute of Optics, School of Aerospace, Harbin Institute of Technology, the light will amount only to a 'dusk-like glow'.

Wu Chunfeng, head of the Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute, unveiled the singular plan at a national mass innovation and entrepreneurship event held last week.

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While it might sound implausible, Wu says the technology has been in the works for years and has now "matured" toward readiness.

For now, details on the proposed moon-including further satellite specifications, cost and launch date-remain scarce.

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.

This isn't the first time researchers have tried to illuminate the skies with artificial rays.

Another Russian attempt to launch a space mirror in 1999 fizzled before it got off the ground, according to The Guardian. And, by 2020, it may even become reality.

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