China unveils plans to launch man-made moon into space

Christopher Davidson
October 22, 2018

According to the China Daily reports, "China is planning to launch its own "Artificial Moon" by 2020, with the plan to replace street lamps and lower costs of electricity in urban areas". He said preliminary testing is now complete, and the satellite should be ready for launch by 2020, according to state media this week. Still, the underlying concept embraced by the experiment - which The New York Times described at the time as a test of "the feasibility of illuminating points on Earth with light equivalent to that of several full moons" - remains an enticing prospect. Not satisfied with the meager light the Moon reflects back down to Earth at night, scientists in the region plan to launch a satellite that will actually reflect sunlight back down to Earth and turn night into day... sort of. The moon's light will be adjustable within the range of a few dozen meters.

Chinese officials and the European Space Agency opened talks previous year regarding the of a possible moon base, while the country also plans to land their own vehicle on Mars by 2020.

While precise details are not available, the illumination satellite is to be placed in geostationary orbit about 22,000 miles above the Earth.

However, some officials expressed concern over the possibility that the illumination produced by the "artificial moon" could pose adverse effects on the circadian rhythms of certain animals. If successful, three more will follow in 2022. It will then be made to orbit the Earth at a height of 500 kilometers and light up an area with a diameter of 10 to 80 kilometers.

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Wu Chunfeng, the president of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Research Institute, who has developed the project, said that the illuminating satellites would provide a "dust-like glow", reducing the need for energy consumption.

The world's first artificial moon will help with lighting the streets at night, explains one of the lead scientists. In the 1990s, Russian Federation experimented with using an orbital mirror to reflect sunlight on some of its sun-deprived northern cities, according to the New York Times.

The PDO reports that Kang Weimin, the director of the Institute of Optics of the Harbin Institute of Technology in China, said the light emitted by the moon would only amount to a 'dusk-like glow, '.

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