City plans fake moon to replace street lights

Cai Yang  Xinhua via APChina Planning Probes Manned Missions Ultimately a Base on Moon- Space Chief

Cai Yang Xinhua via APChina Planning Probes Manned Missions Ultimately a Base on Moon- Space Chief

Video A Chinese businessman has announced plans to light Chengdu at night by launching an artificial "moon" to direct the out-of-sight Sun's rays down onto the city's streets.

The illuminated orb is meant to complement the light of Earth's existing moon, and will be eight times brighter than the natural satellite, Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co.

The satellite will reportedly be eight times brighter than the real moon and could replace street lights.

While it might sound implausible, Wu says the technology has been in the works for years and has now "matured" toward readiness. The state media outlet claims that the fake moon would be able to light up an area with a diameter of 10 to 80 kilometers with officials on the ground able to focus all that the illumination on Chengdu.

People's Daily was quick to reassure those concerned about the fake moon's impact on nighttime wildlife.

Officials have released few details on the project, but say the idea pulls inspiration from a French artist who envisioned a necklace of mirrors hanging over Earth.

But according to Kang Weimin, director of the Institute of Optics, School of Aerospace, Harbin Institute of Technology, the light will amount only to a 'dusk-like glow'.

It is not clear whether the plan has the backing of the city of Chengdu or the Chinese government, though Casc is the main contractor for the Chinese space programme.

About concerns that the manmade moonlight will interrupt the normal day-night cycle of animals and plants, Wu said the light intensity and illumination time can be adjusted and the accuracy of illumination can be controlled within scores of meters. The mirror failed to unfold in space and the experiment was halted.

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