China to create an artificial moon by 2020 to replace street lamps

By Vignesh Giridharan | Published on Oct 24 2018
China to create an artificial moon by 2020 to replace street lamps
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The city of Chengdu should get an artificial moon that glows in tandem with the moon’s light by 2020 to replace all street lamps.

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How would you feel if you landed on the moon, opened the lander’s hatch with bated breath, walked out incredulously only to find a big tag sprouting from the lunar surface, reading, “Made in China”? Well, don’t worry; that’s not quite the moon the Chinese are going for right now but it is close. According to China Daily, scientists are planning to launch an artificial moon in the orbit above the city of Chengdu in the Sichuan province to replace street lamps and to lower electricity costs in urban areas.

This new satellite will be made of a reflective material so it can work in tandem with the light from the moon. When placed in orbit and operational, it will be eight times brighter than the Earth’s moon but only one-fifth as bright as street lamps. If everything goes according to plan, up to 50 square kilometres of land will be illuminated by China’s new artificial moon. With this novel method of illuminating the city’s streets, the scientists hope to reduce electricity costs by 1.2 billion yuan (Rs 12.6 billion approx). 

The project is being carried out by Tian Fu New Area Science Society. According to its head, Wu Chunfeng, the first of these artificial moons will launch from Sichuan's Xichang Satellite Launch Centre by 2020. Three more will follow in 2022 if the tests on the first moon go well. According to him, this source of light could save lives in disaster zones during blackouts.

External observers, according to V3, don’t believe in the Chinese company’s plans. For instance, an engineer by the name of Eric Bretschneider recently wrote on LinkedIn about how the moons would not come close to competing with street lamps in terms of brightness and coverage. He also commented on the overall high expense of a project like this. According to him, the company would have to spend trillions of rupees only to save a small portion of that money in electricity costs, making it undoubtedly impractical to undertake a project like this.

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