China is planning to build an artificial moon, and its eight times brighter than the real one
Beijing, Oct 21: Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Company (CASC) plans to build an artificial moon that would be eight times brighter than the real moon, reports Chinese newspaper The People's Daily.
Could China really light up the night sky?
Yes, China is ready to send a man-made moon on sky. Wu Chunfeng, chairman of the neatly named Chengdu Aerospace Science Institute Microelectronics System Research Institute Co, Ltd said the idea had been in testing for a few years and the technology was now in place to make it happen, with a launch scheduled for 2020.
How would 'artificial moon' work?
The artificial moon would work as a mirror, reflecting sunlight back to Earth, according to China Daily. It would orbit 500km about Earth - roughly the same height as the International Space Station. The Moon orbits, on average, about 380,000km above Earth. The reports gave no details about what the fake moon would look like, but Mr Wu said it would reflect sunlight across an area of between 10km and 80km with brightness "eight times" that of the real Moon.
Why an artificial moon?
To save money. It might sound ridiculous but the Chengdu aerospace officials say putting a fake moon in space could actually end up being cheaper than paying for street lights. China Daily quoted Mr Wu as saying illuminating an area of 50sq km could save up to 1.2bn yuan ($173m; £132m) a year in electricity charges.
China is not alone:
China is not alone. Russia tried launching an orbital mirror back in the 1990s. However, they dropped the project after the mirror didn't unfold and it incinerated on its way into space. Similarly, Rocket Lab out of the United States launched an artificial star. However, the star reportedly added to artificial light pollution and cluttering of Earth's orbit, The New York Times reports.