Oct. 21, 2018, 10:04 AM

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The satellite will shine
‘eight times brighter’ than the real moon to act as a replacement
for streetlights.
Shutterstock /
taffpixture

China wants to build an artificial moon “eight times
brighter than the real moon” to light up city streets.

It’s estimated the moon would save the city about 1.2
billion yuan ($240 million) in electricity costs every year,
and could be launched as early as 2020.

However experts say it “potentially creates significant
new environmental problems”.

Chinese scientists are planning to introduce an artificial moon
that will shine “eight times brighter” than the real moon and
could be launched as soon as 2020.

The project has already being developed by the Chengdu Aerospace
Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute
Corporation and the institute have claimed that the plan is
already “mature in technology”.

According to state media People’s Daily, China’s fake moon will
light up the streets of Chengdua at night with “a dusk-like glow”
across an area anywhere between 10km to 80km wide — and it should
be bright enough to replace streetlights.

Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology
Microelectronics System Research Institute Corporation, said if
the moon could light up 50km of Chengdu at night, it would
save the city about 1.2 billion yuan ($240
million) in electricity costs every year.

Astronomers and environmentalists are horrified by the
plans. John Barentine, Director of Public Policy at the
International Dark-Sky Association, told Forbes the “solution” to
Chengdu’s problems “potentially
creates significant new environmental problems” – and
could increase light pollution by a factor of 47. 

“The Chengdu ‘artificial moon’ would have the effect of
significantly increasing the nighttime brightness of an already
light-polluted city, creating problems for both Chengdu’s
residents, who are unable to screen out the unwanted light, as
well as for the urban wildlife population that can’t simply go
inside and close the shutters,” he said.

If China’s plans for a fake moon sounds implausible, reflecting
the Sun’s rays back to Earth at night has actually been done
before.

In 1993, Russia successfully coaxed a beam 5km wide
from a 20-metre solar mirror called Znamya
2 that was roughly as bright as a full moon. However, a piece
of the reflective umbrella caught on an antenna as it was
unfurling, and the satellite was deorbited after a couple of
hours.

Read the original article on Business Insider Australia. Copyright 2018.

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