China May Soon Have a Second (Artificial) Moon

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The so-called illumination satellite set to deploy over the southwestern city of Chengdu in 2020 is touted to be eight times as bright as the real moon, to cast a "dusk-like glow" over the region, according to the People's Daily.

A city in China wants to put an artificial moon in space to act sort of like a massive streetlight.

The illuminated orb is meant to complement the light of Earth's existing moon, and will be eight times brighter than the natural satellite, Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co.

It is not clear whether the plan has the backing of the city of Chengdu or the Chinese government, though Casc is the main contractor for the Chinese space programme.

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According to local reports picked up by the Asia Times, the city has been evaluating the technology behind an artificial moon for years and has tested it enough to feel it's ready for launch. The company says it will be launching an "illumination satellite" in less than two years, this created to light up the night sky with artificial light 8 times greater than the actual Moon.

Controls on the satellite will allow light levels to be configured and controlled, Wu told a conference of entrepreneurs, and the final object would be able to reflect light on a 10 to 80 mile area, well within the city's area. In other words, one would think Casc would know whether a plan to launch a new satellite has Beijing's approval or not.

The newspaper credited a French artist for the idea of putting a manmade moon into orbit.

Regarding concerns about the Chinese artificial moon interfering with astronomical observations or disrupting animals that are active at night, Kang Weimin, the director of the Institute of Optics of the Harbin Institute of Technology in China, said that the light would amount to only a "dusk-like glow", PDO reported.

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