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

Cai Yang  Xinhua via APChina Planning Probes Manned Missions Ultimately a Base on Moon- Space Chief

Cai Yang Xinhua via APChina Planning Probes Manned Missions Ultimately a Base on Moon- Space Chief

Although Chengdu, capital of China's Sichuan province, is set to be the man-made moon's focus, astronomers across the globe will reportedly be able to spot the satellite's glow as they search the night sky.

Video A Chinese businessman has announced plans to light Chengdu at night by launching an artificial "moon" to direct the out-of-sight Sun's rays down onto the city's streets.

Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute, made the announcement at a recent conference and said the new moon could replace some street lights.

According to local reports picked up by the Asia Times, the city has been evaluating the technology behind an artificial moon for years and has tested it enough to feel it's ready for launch. However, an expert told the People's Daily that the artificial moon's light shouldn't be so bright that it would impact them.

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An "illumination satellite" could be in place by 2020 and is said to be eight times as bright as the real moon.

It also will have solar panel-like wings on its surface which can be adjusted for precise lighting. As Fortune's Don Reisinger notes, Chengdu officials hope the project will generate a financial windfall, allowing the city to cut electricity costs and attract tourists.

He said "that the light of the satellite is similar to a dusk-like glow, so it should not affect animals" routines'. A similar project was unveiled by Russian Federation in the 1990s, with the launch of a solar reflecting system - a "space mirror" - meant to produce light "equivalent to three to five full moons" covering an area approximately 3 miles (5 kilometers) in diameter, the New York Times reported in 1993. The mirror failed to unfold in space and the experiment was halted. And, by 2020, it may even become reality.

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