Published: Fri, October 19, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Chinese City Wants to Launch Artificial Moon

Chinese City Wants to Launch Artificial Moon

Though skeptics have expressed doubt over whether the company will ever actually launch such a device, it does again raise questions over whether it is wise to fill the night sky with artificial lights.

A Chinese city has hatched a plan to launch an artificial moon into space within the next two years, according to a new report.

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.

Details on the "illumination satellite" are few, but Wu said it would be eight times brighter than the actual moon, could light an area 10 to 80 kilometers (6.2 to 50 miles) wide, and that its exact lighting range could be controlled within a few dozen meters, according to the People's Daily Online.

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The artificial or manmade moon is a satellite carrying a huge space mirror, which can reflect the sunlight to the Earth.

Wu reportedly said testing had begun on the satellite years ago and the technology had now evolved enough to allow for launch in 2020. If the effort is successful, it would likely mean the city would have the equivalent of a full moon every night rather than just at certain times of the month. When a man-made moon is orbiting, people can only see a bright star in the sky.

Kang Weimin, director of the Institute of Optics, School of Aerospace, Harbin Institute of Technology, assured that the light of the satellite is similar to a dusk-like glow, so it should not affect animals' routines.

Giulio Calenne of Chinese commerce outlet CIFnews writes that the idea has raised concerns amongst those who fear the artificial light could have adverse effects on wildlife and astronomical observation. The mirror failed to unfold in space and the experiment was halted.

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