China plans to launch its own "artificial moon" into space in 2020 to replace urban lighting and reduce electricity costs in cities.
In China, a kind of "bright satellites" are being developed that, together with the real moon, will illuminate the city of Chengdu, capital of the Sichuan province. These satellites will be eight times more luminous.
Wu Chunfeng, head of the project, belonging to the Tian Fu New Area Science Society organization, reported that if the first experimental launch is successful, another three will be launched in 2022 and will have great civic and commercial potential.
How they will work
The principle is based on reflecting sunlight, in this way the satellites will replace urban lighting in cities or urban areas, saving about 170 million dollars annually in electricity in the city of Chengdu, corresponding to an area of 50 km2, he commented. Chunfeng.
The artificial moon, eight times brighter than the natural one, will be coated with a reflective layer that can redirect sunlight to Earth, in the same way that the real Moon does. The reflective layer can be adjusted if necessary, the location and brightness of the light beam can be changed, and the accuracy of its coverage can fall within a few dozen meters.
The artificial moon is brighter because it will be closer to Earth, about 500 km, while the natural moon is about 380,000 km.
And if it is cloudy?
However, less light from the satellite will reach the ground if the sky is cloudy.
The three new artificial moons can take turns reflecting sunlight, as they will not always be in the best position relative to the sun, and together they can illuminate an area of around 3,600 to 6,400 square kilometers on Earth for 24 hours.
Consequences of the artificial Moon
Despite the feasibility of the project, Chunfeng mentioned some negative consequences, such as the effect on the physiology of people and animals, in which the absence of regular alternations between night and day would alter several metabolic patterns, including sleep . "We will only conduct our tests in an uninhabited desert, so that our rays of light do not interfere with any person or Earth-based space observation equipment," he said. "When the satellite is in operation, people will only see a bright star above, and not a giant moon as they imagined."
In 1999, Russia tried to send a space mirror 25 meters in diameter into space, under the Banner project. The goal of the project was to redirect sunlight to Russian cities, but the space mirror failed to launch and the entire project was soon canceled due to budget problems, according to the New York Times.
With information from: