China plans to send an artificial moon in 2020

The Chinese daily China Daily – under state control – reports that the country’s space industry is preparing to launch an artificial moon with the aim of replacing urban lighting at night.

Moon-face-face-cache-NASACThis project was presented by New Area Science Society for the city of Chengdu. A first experimental satellite would be sent into orbit in 2020, and three more satellites could follow in 2022. This artificial moon is presented as an “illumination satellite” eight times brighter than the Moon.

Covered with a reflective layer to deflect light from the Sun to the Earth, the object would evolve 500 km above the Earth to illuminate an area of 50 km². It could save electricity (night public lighting) for the city of Chengdu.

With the whole system, modular artificial lighting could cover an area on Earth of between 3600 and 6400 km², for 24 hours if desired, for example to illuminate disaster areas.

For a human eye, the expected brightness is about one-fifth that of a normal street lamp. Nevertheless, one may wonder about the impact of such night lighting not only on man, but also on fauna and flora, as well as on space observation equipment.

First tests should concern an uninhabited desert… if the project is not nipped in the bud.

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