‘Artificial Moon’ To Replace Street Lights In Chinese City

Chengdu, a city in Southwestern China, has come up with a unique way to illuminate the streets at night. The city will launch an “artificial moon” in 2020, according to Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co., Ltd.

Wu revealed the news about the illumination satellite during a national mass innovation and entrepreneurship event in the city earlier this month, reports People’s Daily Online.

The device is intended to be used in conjunction with the moon’s natural light. According to Wu, the artificial moon will be eight times brighter than the real moon and will eliminate the need for street lights.

The light from the artificial moon will encompass an area of 10 to 80 kilometers in diameter. Engineers will be able to control the exact range of light within a few dozen meters.

Who do we have to thank for this project? It’s due to the vision of “a French artist, who imagined hanging a necklace made of mirrors above the Earth which could reflect sunshine through the streets of Paris all year round,” People’s Daily Online reports.

The illumination satellite has undergone testing over the past few years, and the technology “has finally matured” to the point of execution.

There are some concerns that lights reflected from space may impact animal habits and astronomical observation. However, Kang Weimin, director of the Institute of Optics, School of Aerospace, Harbin Institute of Technology, compared the light of the artificial moon to a “dusk-like glow,” noting that it would not adversely affect wildlife.

It’s unclear if Chengdu or the Chinese government is offering support for the plan.

It’s not the first time a country has resorted to unusual technology to brighten up dark spaces. Norway installed computer-controlled mirrors in the town of Rjukan in 2013 to track the sun’s movement and to reflect the rays towards the town square, according to The Guardian.

Russian astronomers and engineers launched a satellite into space in the 1990s to deflect sunlight down to earth. Known as the Znamya experiment, its aim was to illuminate sections of the planet with light stronger than several full moons.


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