China plans to launch artificial moon bright enough to replace city’s streetlights by 2020

The illuminated satellite is said to be eight times brighter than the real moon, according to state media People’s Daily, and forms part of the country’s growing ambitions in space.

Chinese scientists plan to send three artificial moons into space in the next four years, and the moons — made from reflective material like a mirror — are expected to orbit at 500 kilometres above the Earth and light up an area with a diameter of 10 to 80 kilometres.

Chinese scientists plan to send three artificial moons into space in the next four years, and the moons — made from reflective material like a mirror — are expected to orbit at 500 kilometres above the Earth and light up an area with a diameter of 10 to 80 kilometres.

The artificial moon will have a reflective coating that can deflect sunlight back to Earth, similar to how the moon shines.

The illuminated satellite is said to be eight times brighter than the real moon. The satellites’ brightness and service time are both adjustable, and the accuracy of the lighting can be controlled within tens of metres.

The three artificial moons would operate alternately in order to significantly reduce infrastructural electricity consumption, especially during winter. The illuminated satellite is designed to complement the moon at night.

Lighting from the artificial moon covering 50 square kilometres in Chengdu could save about 1.2 billion yuan ($240 million) in electricity costs every year. It could also be used to light up areas experiencing power outages caused by natural disasters such as earthquakes.

The idea for the man-made moon originated from a French artist who imagined hanging a necklace made of mirrors in the sky to light up the streets of Paris at night. Russia attempted to launch a 25-metre “space mirror” but the project was put off in 1999.

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