Chengdu, a city in southwestern China, is planning to launch an artificial moon into orbit over their city as a replacement for streetlights.
According to the Daily Mail, the artificial moon will be capable of throwing light as far as 80 miles away, replacing the need for streetlights in the area. Called an “illumination satellite,” this moon will be capable of being “eight times as bright as the real moon” and will create a “dusk-like glow” over the city.
People’s Daily states that this fake moon will be set for orbit in 2020, according to Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co., Ltd.
According to the Express, the idea stemmed from a concept from a French artist “who imagined placing a row of mirrors on the Earth to reflect the sunlight on the streets of Paris all year round.” The concept has been in development for some years now and the announcement was made after the parties involved were convinced their new illumination satellite would work. The idea was launched during an event in Chengdu on October 10, according to People’s Daily.
Chinese city 'plans to launch artificial moon to replace streetlights' https://t.co/Lk4M7kd1Vs
— The Guardian (@guardian) October 17, 2018
However, some people are concerned that there is an ulterior motive behind China’s push to launch an artificial moon into the night’s sky. In addition to the new illumination satellite, China has renewed interest in moon missions and some people are wondering if the two are connected and might possibly be a threat to U.S. space endeavors.
The Drive suggests that China’s interest in moon missions could be part of a multi-faceted drive to countering U.S. capabilities in space. This concern was raised after comments made by Jeff Gossel, the senior intelligence engineer in the Space and Missile Analysis Group at the Air Force’s National Air and Space Intelligence Center, according to Defense One.
While these may be legitimate concerns, it is important to note that these conversations being had are in relation to a Chinese moon probe perhaps being used as an anti-satellite weapon, and not in relation to the artificial moon, or illumination satellite, also being reported currently.
However, there are other concerns. It is also possible this artificial moon will have “adverse effects on animals and astronomical observation,” according to the Daily Mail.
Kang Weimin, director of the Institute of Optics, School of Aerospace, Harbin Institute of Technology, went on the record to explain that the light of the illumination satellite is more similar to lighting conditions seen at dusk, so it shouldn’t affect animals’ routines, according to People’s Daily.