Monday, 19 November, 2018

China could launch moon illumination satellite by 2020, state media says

Second Moon Might Glow Over China By 2020 Raymond Shobe Flickr
Kristen Harrington | 22 October, 2018, 01:16

Chengdu, the capital of China's Sichuan province, just announced its rather outrageous plan to help save electricity by launching an illumination satellite that will light up the city, which they have dubbed as an "artificial moon".

The artificial moon will be brighter than the one we're used to, according to Wu Chunfeng, head of Tian Fu New Area Science Society in Chengdu, who spoke to China Daily.

And the "dusk-like glow" that the fake moon would create would also be something of a tourist attraction for the area, according to the developers. It expects to launch the illumination satellite by 2020 at the earliest.

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The idea of an extra moon, which is said to be able to produce enough light to illuminate an area between 10 and 80km (six to 50 miles) in Chengdu, is fraught with real environmental threats.

"Artificial Moon" will have a special coating that can reflect sunlight to the Earth by analogy with the lunar light. The team behind the artificial moon will launch it from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in Sichuan and place it in orbit right above Chengdu.

Wu said the light intensity and illumination time can be adjusted and the accuracy of illumination can be controlled within scores of meters.

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Before it makes its city debut, however, the moon will have to be tested in an uninhabited desert so that its light beams don't to interfere with people or Earth-based space observation equipment. The main problems in the construction of the artificial moon should be its high cost, complexity of installation of the mirrors and the withdrawal of a satellite into orbit and the need to somehow protect the device from debris. If the first run is successful, then by 2022, the orbit will withdraw another three such objects.

He added that the first artificial moon was largely an experiment but scientists hoped that the other moons that follow would be the "real deal", China Daily noted.

In 1999, Russian Federation orbited a solar mirror named Znamya 2.5 to light-up cities in the inhospitable and far-flung cities of arctic Siberia.

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Mr. Wu concluded that China, Russia, the U.S., Japan, and European countries have all been looking to use reflecting mirrors and harness energy from space.

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