Chinese city to replace streetlights with artificial moon by 2020

Katie Ramirez
December 8, 2019

Located significantly closer to the earth, Chunfeng estimates that it could provide eight times as much iridescence as the moon.

Chengdu, a city in China, has unveiled plans to replace the city's streetlights with an illumination satellite, also known as "artificial moon" by the year 2020.

Neither Wu nor the Tian Fu New Area Science Society could be contacted to confirm the report. According to The Asia Times, Chengdu's artificial moon will feature a highly reflective coating that reflects the sun's rays via solar panel-like wings. If the project proves successful, it could be joined by three more additions to the night sky in 2022, he said.

Controls on the satellite will allow light levels to be configured and controlled, Wu told a conference of entrepreneurs, and the final object would be able to reflect light on a 10 to 80 mile area, well within the city's area. "Its expected brightness, in the eyes of humans, is around one-fifth of normal streetlights".

Scientists in Norway have previously tried to create artificial light over remote areas of the country.

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The mirrors can be adjusted for luminosity, and can be completely turned off when needed.

Moonlit skies over the Chinese city of Chengdu may soon get a boost from a second moon. However, less light from the satellite will reach the ground if the sky is overcast. Kang Weimin, director of the Institute of Optics, School of Aerospace, Harbin Institute of Technology, said the artificial moon's dusky glow wouldn't interfere with animals' sleeping schedules, People's Daily reported.

Despite the approval, Mr Wu was quick to point out some criticism of the project, including fear of detrimental physiological consequences for people and animals, in which the absence of regular alternations between night and day would disrupt various metabolic patterns, including sleep. The faux moon should easily be visible in China and other locations as a very bright star.

"China, Russia, the US, Japan, and the European Union are all striving to make technological breakthroughs on space energy application", Wu said.

The last project of such kind was a Russian attempt in 1999 to use orbiting mirrors as a way to illuminate cities in Siberia, mainly in the hope it would serve as a cheaper alternative to electric lighting.

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