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China to launch 'moon' to light up city at night

19 October 2018
China to launch 'moon' to light up city at night

The plans were reportedly revealed by the Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co.at a Chinese innovation and entrepreneurship event that took place last week. There seems to be some conflicting information over just how bright the light will be - something bright enough to make street lights obsolete sure sounds like it's brighter than a "glow" - so it'll be interesting to see just how well the mirror works... or doesn't.

Though skeptics have expressed doubt over whether the company will ever actually launch such a device, it does again raise questions over whether it is wise to fill the night sky with artificial lights. "The satellite will be able to light an area with a diameter of 10 to 80 kilometers, while the precise illumination range can be controlled within a few dozen meters". The brightness of the artificial moon would be bright enough to replace streetlights, another state-run media outlet, Xinhua, quoted Wu as saying.

Meanwhile, the extra light can shine into disaster zones during blackouts, thus aiding relief and rescue efforts, he added. However, less light from the satellite will reach the ground if the sky is overcast. 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. As Fortune's Don Reisinger notes, Chengdu officials hope the project will generate a financial windfall, allowing the city to cut electricity costs and attract tourists.

"China, Russia, the US, Japan and the European Union are all striving to make technological breakthroughs on space energy application", Wu said. The project aimed to redirect sunlight onto Russian cities, but the space mirror misfired at launch and the entire project was soon cancelled due to budget issues, according to the New York Times.