China to Launch Lunar Lighting in Outer Space

China to Launch Lunar Lighting in Outer Space

If the launch proves successful, three more such objects will be launched in 2022, Mr Wu Chunfeng, head of Tian Fu New Area Science Society in Chengdu, told the China Daily in an exclusive interview on Thursday (Oct 18). The so-called "illumination satellites" are not meant to replace the moon, China Daily reports.

He was quoted as saying the artificial moon is eight times brighter than the real moon.

The artificial moon would have solar panel-like wings with highly reflective coating to reflect sunlight onto the ground, the Asia Times reported.

No further details of the spacecraft were released, and a specific launch date has not been announced other than sometime in 2020.

The light emitted would be enough to entirely replace street lights, researchers believe, and if it covered 50 square kilometres, it could save $1.2 billion yuan ($A240 million) in electricity costs each year.

But little is known about the height, size and true brightness of the proposed artificial moon - all of which are factors that could affect its visibility to distant observers. "Artificial Moon" would have the same drawback as the real, the light from it is hard to reach the Earth's surface in cloudy weather. It will then be made to orbit the Earth at a height of 500 kilometers and light up an area with a diameter of 10 to 80 kilometers.

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Three man-made moons will be launched in 2022, it said.

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 scheme is similar to Russia's plan to provide a cheaper alternative to electric lighting by launching orbiting mirrors over Siberia in the 1990s.

Chengdu's artificial moon has already been criticized by the skeptics and concerned citizens who argue that light will have adverse effects on animals and astronomical observation.

China is aiming to introduce the artificial moon by 2020, the moon has the capability of lightening up the skies as far as fifty miles around.

Chengdu city people are waiting for the satellite to start tourism in the city. In the 1990s, Russian Federation experimented with using an orbital mirror to reflect sunlight on some of its sun-deprived northern cities, according to the New York Times.

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