China Planning To Launch Fake Moon To Replace Streetlights
When the moons hit your eye.
As we enter an age where street lights are apparently so yesterday, China reportedly has ambitious plans to launch an "artificial" moon capable of putting the real one's glow to shame.
The illuminated satellite is "designed to complement the moon at night," and will glow eight times as bright in order to light up the streets of the southwestern city Chengdu, according to state media.
Set to go up by 2020, the satellite would have a glow powerful enough to light an area with a diameter of 10-80km, enabling it to replace streetlights.
"The satellites' brightness and service time are both adjustable, and the accuracy of the lighting can be controlled within tens of metres," said Wu Chunfeng, chairman of project developer Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Corporation.
State-run media outlet Xinhua quoted Wu as saying the idea came from a French artist, who imagined hanging a necklace made of mirrors above the earth which could reflect sunshine through the streets of Paris all year round.
While Paris may just have to stick to the lights they're already famous for, Wu said three artificial moons would be sent into space in the next four years, operating alternatively to reduce infrastructural electricity consumption.
He reportedly added testing of the satellite, which is expected to orbit at 500 kilometres above the Earth, began years ago.
The "dusk-like glow" of the fake moon could save about 1.2 billion yuan ($240 million) in electricity costs each year, Wu said, as well as be used to light up areas experiencing power outages due to natural disasters.
But not everyone thinks it's such a bright idea, with some concerned the project would disrupt sleep patterns and animal behaviours.
Bizarre as it may seem, this isn't the first time the idea for a fake moon has been been floated.
In 1999, Russia tried to mount a 25-metre space mirror on its Mir space station in an attempt to basically banish night in some regions.
During its first orbit the craft was destroyed however, and the project was abandoned.