Moonlight could be creepy at times but fascinating for the people of China.
Chengdu, Sichuan ‘s capital, is a province situated in the southwestern portion of China. There are more than 14 million people who live in the region and would love to have their night skies glowing to brighten their streets. The province sees that an artificial moon could be the answer to their insufficient light during the night.
Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co., Ltd chairman Wu Chunfeng unveiled the idea on October 10 regarding the sending of an artificial moon in space. The intention is to replace streetlamps and light up an area that would cover 10 to 80 kilometers or 6 to 50 miles. The light of the artificial moon could be modified within the extent of a few dozen meters.
While several specifics regarding the artificial moon and its actual launch are still vague, Chunfeng noted that it would rise in the sky by 2020. For years, technology tests have been on-going. If the experiment becomes successful, it will provide additional lighting which means less consumption of electricity and could attract more tourists.
How will it work?
The artificial moon will become a satellite having a special covering that will reflect the sun’s light toward Chengdu when night comes. The light would be sufficiently dazzling to substitute streetlamps. The idea is equivalent to Russia’s ploy of providing a cost-effective replacement to electric lighting in the 1990’s by sending off orbiting mirrors over Siberia. The project was known as Znamya but was deserted on Feb. 5, 1999, due to the failure of deploying one of the mirrors.
The Znamya experiment failed
Russian cosmonauts aboard the Mir space station failed to set out the 25-meter giant “space mirror” into space on February 4, 1999. The Znamya reflector was engineered to deliver strong emissions of sunlight on parts of Earth where it is a night. Had the experiment became successful, North America and European observers could have witnessed brilliance in the sky considerably more radiant compared to the full moon for several minutes. The giant reflector at that time was allowed to fall to Earth together with the Progress cargo vessel where it is attached.
Possible negative impact
Not all are in favor of putting up an artificial moon into space because of its probable impact on all living things in Chengdu. People and some animals sleep during the night but with the artificial moon shining brightly in the sky could disrupt the sleep-wake cycles or even confuse day and nocturnal animals which could also change their behavior.
At any rate, director of the Institute of Optics, School of Aerospace at Harbin Institute of Technology, Kang Weimin suggests that the light of the artificial moon will simply supplement that of the real moon which just creates a “dusk-like glow”. Once the new “moon” is launched, it would plausibly generate light eight-fold as much as the real moon.
A French artist ostensibly spirited the ideas of an artificial moon who fantasied a floating necklace made of mirrors above the planet that might reflect sunlight across the streets of Paris throughout the year.