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China May Soon Have a Second (Artificial) Moon

19 October 2018

The thinking is to save a hefty sum in electricity costs, according to Wu Chunfeng, chairman of the Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co., who is behind the scheme. A similar project was unveiled by Russian Federation in the 1990s, with the launch of a solar reflecting system - a "space mirror" - meant to produce light "equivalent to three to five full moons" covering an area approximately 3 miles (5 kilometers) in diameter, the New York Times reported in 1993.

A Chinese city, Chengdu, has perfected plans to replace the city's streetlights with an "artificial moon" by 2020.

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Some experts who support the plan suggest that it'll produce little more than a "twilight glow" that shouldn't change how animals behave, but nobody will know for certain until the satellite is up and running.

Chengdu's artificial moon project was announced by Wu at an innovation and entrepreneurship conference in Chengdu on Oct 10.

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However, the exact details of the spacecraft, the launch date and how the artificial moon would be maintained were not revealed.

China's space industry is preparing to launch the world's first artificial moon to help with urban illumination at night, a leading scientist said. The city also believes that tourists would be more likely to visit and see how the moon works during the night, according to the report.

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He said "that the light of the satellite is similar to a dusk-like glow, so it should not affect animals" routines'. 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. The Telegraph's Joseph Archer reports that Russian scientists launched a mirror-equipped spacecraft created to brighten Siberia's sun-deprived streets back in 1999.

China May Soon Have a Second (Artificial) Moon