Published: Mon, October 22, 2018
Research | By Jody Lindsey

Artificial Moon A Replacement of Streetlights on Space

Artificial Moon A Replacement of Streetlights on Space

In a first of its kind move, Chinese space company, Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Company (CASC), is planning to build an artificial moon that could probably be used to brighten up the city of Chengdu at night sans streetlights.

The idea is that the moon's light will be bright enough to replace streetlamps, illuminating an area with a diameter of 10 to 80 kilometers (6-50 miles).

Officials have released few details on the project, but say the idea pulls inspiration from a French artist who envisioned a necklace of mirrors hanging over Earth.

The project is set to be completed in 2020 and, according to the People's Daily, the artificial moon is "designed to complement the moon at night".

The actual moon orbits 236,000 miles away from the earth.

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The articial light emitted would replace streetlights in the Chinese city of Chengdu. If the project is deemed to be successful, China plans to send two more of its artificial moon units in the course of the next four years.

"The first moon will be mostly experimental, but the three moons in 2022 will be the real deal with great civic and commercial potential", Wu said.

The artificial moon's reflective coating will reflect the sun's light back to Earth, much like what the singular, natural moon in the sky already does. Instead, the satellites will be created to complement the light of the real moon, although it's hard to imagine they won't outshine the real thing, as their light is expected to be eight times brighter.

Mr. Wu added that notable universities and institutes - Harbin Institute of Technology, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp for example - have approved the project for trial and demonstration. The organization behind the lunar illumination also hopes the space light source will assist with rescue efforts in disaster zones when electricity for lighting is not available. He said preliminary testing is now complete, and the satellite should be ready for launch by 2020, according to state media this week.

In the past, Russian Federation tried sending a 25-meter diameter space mirror called Banner, but the space mirror misfired second time and the entire project was shelved due to funds crunch.

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