China To Launch Man-Made Moon To Replace Street Lights

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If the effort is successful, it would likely mean the city would have the equivalent of a full moon every night rather than just at certain times of the month.

This bold plan never came to fruition, but as Chinese news outlet The People's Daily reports, an illumination satellite inspired by the idea may brighten the streets of Chengdu as soon as 2020.

The artificial moon will be eight times brighter than the real Moon and will be able to light an area with a diameter of up to 80 kilometres.

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Wu Chunfend, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co., Ltd, revealed the plan at an event in the city on Oct 10, People's Daily reports.

The moon orbits the Earth about 380,000 km from the Earth, while the man-made moon is expected to be put on an orbit within 500 km from the Earth, the state-run China Daily reported. Citing the imagined French necklace of mirrors as the impetus for the project, Chunfeng explained that the technology behind the satellite has been in the testing phase for years but is finally near completion.

In the 1990s a team of Russian astronomers and engineers succeeded in launching a satellite into space to deflect sunlight back to Earth, briefly illuminating the nighttime hemisphere.

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But Znamya 2.5 misfired on launch and its creators failed to raise funding for another attempt. But little is known about the height, size and true brightness of the proposed artificial moon - all of which are factors that could affect its visibility to distant observers.

About concerns that the manmade moonlight will interrupt the normal day-night cycle of animals and plants, Wu said the light intensity and illumination time can be adjusted and the accuracy of illumination can be controlled within scores of meters.

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