In an effort to illuminate the streets after dark, the Chinese scientists are planning to place an artificial moon in orbit by 2020. According to a report in China Daily, the moon will be launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan and will be placed above Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province.
Tian Fu New Area Science Society head Wu Chunfeng in an interview to the daily said that the man-made moon will have “a reflective coating that can reflect sunlight back to Earth, similar to how the moon shines”. He further said that the artificial moon is an illumination satellite designed to complement the moon at night. It is predicted to be eight times brighter, the report said.
“But this is not enough to light up the entire night sky. Its expected brightness, in the eyes of humans, is around one-fifth of normal streetlights,” Wu Chunfeng told the daily. He, however, said that the location and brightness of the light beam can be changed. The scientist further said that the moon might replace some streetlights in the urban area.
The scientists are planning to launch four such moons. Wu Chunfeng said that the first moon would be experimental, but the three moons in 2022 would be the real deal with great civic and commercial potential.
According to Chunfeng, the three new man-made moons can together illuminate an area of around 3,600 to 6,400 sq km on Earth for 24 hours. He also informed that several top universities and institutes including China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation have evaluated the project and given it their approval for the experiment.
Explaining the process of launch, Wu Chunfeng said that scientists would conduct the tests in an uninhabited desert. After the satellite is placed in the Orbit, people will see only a bright star above, and not a giant moon as imagined, he said.
Wu Chunfeng said that not only China but other countries such as Russia, the US, and Japan are looking to gain from space energy and reflecting mirrors have been in the discussion for some time.