China to replace streetlights with artificial moon by 2020

Greg Lawrence
October 19, 2018

This "artificial moon" will in fact be a satellite capable of generating a light that's eight times brighter than the real moon and replacing the need for streetlights in the city.

So the city of Chengdu hopes instead to launch a better and brighter artificial moon that could be bright enough to replace street lights. The fake moon will supposedly be able to light up an area up to about 50 miles in diameter, and also be remotely controllable for light precision.

It will complement the moon to make Chengu's night skies brighter when it launches in 2020, potentially serving as a replacement to conventional streetlights.

The idea came from a French artist who suggested that a "necklace made of mirrors above the earth.could reflect sunshine through the streets of Paris all year round", People's Daily says.

The satellite is effectively a giant mirror that will redirect sunlight back down on Chengdu even after the Sun sets.

The angles of these wings can then be adjusted to allow the light to focus on a precise location.

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Any concerns about light pollution or the disruption to nocturnal animals appeared to be quashed at the event.

According to local media reports, the idea was presented earlier this month by Wu Chunfeng, chairman of the - take a deep breath - Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co.

China's space industry is preparing to launch the world's first artificial moon to help with urban illumination at night, a leading scientist said. Still, the underlying concept embraced by the experiment - which The New York Times described at the time as a test of "the feasibility of illuminating points on Earth with light equivalent to that of several full moons" - remains an enticing prospect.

A similar project was launched by the Russians in 1999 to use orbiting mirrors to light up cities in Siberia as a cheap alternative to electricity.

It remains to be seen whether Chengdu's artificial moon will prove any more successful. The scheme used a device known as the Znamya 2, which was equipped with a 25-meter mirror to illuminate a three-mile radius of land.

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