China to launch artificial ‘moon’ into orbit to light up cities

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China to launch artificial ‘moon’ into orbit to light up cities

Regarding concerns about the Chinese artificial moon interfering with astronomical observations or disrupting animals that are active at night, Kang Weimin, the director of the Institute of Optics of the Harbin Institute of Technology in China, said that the light would amount to only a "dusk-like glow", PDO reported.

Officials in China are planning to launch a man-made moon to rest in the sky above the south-western city of Chengdu. According to The Asia Times, Chengdu's artificial moon will feature a highly reflective coating that reflects the sun's rays via solar panel-like wings. Officials on the ground can control the diameter of the light to ensure it focuses precisely on the city and nowhere else, according to the report. He said the satellite would be able to illuminate the city with eight times the brightness of the real moon, eliminating the need for streetlights.

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.

Of course, artificial lighting is already a contentious issue - potential annoyances at the loss of a night sky aside, these lights have the potential to negatively impact human health, animal routines, and make life harder for astronomers.

Wu told reporters the technology is now "mature" and will be launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in 2020.

For now, details on the proposed moon-including further satellite specifications, cost and launch date-remain scarce. The mirror failed to unfold in space and the experiment was halted.

The device, dubbed Znamya 2, collapsed soon after take-off and was subsequently abandoned.

He added that the testing of the illumination started years ago and is now ready.

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