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A city in China wants to start an artificial moon in space

Download the Mach newsletter. SUBSCRIBE Oct. 25, 2018 / 8:29 AM GMT By Denise Chow It may sound like a…

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By Denise Chow

It may sound like a plot boiled by a cartoon villain, but a city in southwest China strives to launch an artificial moon in space which could replace street lighting by bathing the ground in a “dusk-like glow”.

City officials in Chengdu said they are planning to launch the so-called lighting satellite 2020, China’s People News Daily newspaper reported. The bold plan was announced by Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co., a private company, at a 1

0th October event in Chengdu.
Lintao Zhang / Getty Images file

In an interview with China Daily, Wu said that the mirror-like exterior of the satellite should reflect the sunlight down. “/> Chengdu City is the capital of southwest China Sichuan province. to the earth, create a glow around eight times lighter than the moon. The artificial moon, which he said would run about 500 kilometers above the ground, could save $ 174 million in electricity from streetlights.

Not much else is known about the lighting satellite, including its size or cost. It is also unclear whether the introduction of another light source in the sky would adversely affect the locals or the wilderness – perhaps by disturbing the daily light-cycle cycle.

This is not the first time the idea of ​​putting new light sources into space has

In the 1920s, a German physicist, Hermann Oberth, suggested the idea of ​​using a space-based mirror to reflect light to the ground. Nothing came of that thought. But, seven decades later, on February 4, 1993, the Russian cosmonauts released a small experimental mirror from the Mir Space Station, Bruce Hunt, a professor in history at the University of Texas in Austin, told NBC News MACH in an email. 19659006] Dubbed Znamya mirrored the mirror short a beam of light to the earth that was two to three times as bright as the moon, the New York Times reported at that time. A few days later, the mirror burned up when it returned to Earth’s atmosphere.

However, despite the long interests of such ideas, Hunt, specializing in the history of science and technology, is doubtful about the Chinese project. [19659006] “I do not think space mirrors would be very practical because I doubt they could be reliably controlled to light just the desired areas, they would contribute a lot of light pollution (astronomers would be very dissatisfied with them) and even then they would do not give enough light to remove a demand for lighting at ground level, I say. “Space mirrors turn me into a solution for looking for a problem.”

William Schonberg, MSc professor at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, said that he was fascinated by the thought – but encountered similar concerns.

“What happens when the” light “burns out (that is, the reflector deteriorates where it no longer works)?” Schonberg told MACH in an email. “On the environmental side is worry about light pollution. Will the residents of the enlightened city no longer be able to see the night sky? How much games will there be in nearby cities, and how will it affect their “night vision”? “

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