Chinese city wants to launch artificial moon to 'replace streetlights'

The moon over the Chinese capital, Beijing (PA)
The moon over the Chinese capital, Beijing (PA)

The Chinese city of Chengdu could put an ‘artificial moon’ in the sky to make nights brighter.

An ‘illumination satellite’ could be in place by 2020 and is said to be eight times as bright as the real moon.

An official said it was ‘designed to complement the moon at night’.

The bizarre plan, which would give a ‘dust-like glow’ for the south-western city of 14 million, was revealed in the People’s Daily newspaper.

If successful, the man-made ‘moon’ could replace streetlights.

Chinese blossoms illuminated by the moon (PA)
Chinese blossoms illuminated by the moon (PA)

Officials said it could be controlled to light up an area up to 50 miles wide and said the idea was the brainchild of a French artist.

The likelihood that the moon will ever rise in the skies above Chengdu has already been dismissed by some skeptics – but the Chinese are not the first to come up with the ambitious idea.

Most famously, the Russians wanted to use a satellite to deflect sunlight back to Earth, to illuminate night times in part of the vast country.

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There have also been concerns raised that the science fiction-type plan could harm wildlife.

However, one of those involved in the project, Kang Weimin, director of the Institute of Optics, School of Aerospace, Harbin Institute of Technology, said this was not the case.

He said ‘that the light of the satellite is similar to a dusk-like glow, so it should not affect animals’ routines’.

The satellite is due for launch in 2020 and could start work soon after, the paper reported.

The idea was launched at a press conference earlier this month by Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute.

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