China is reportedly in the process of creating an “artificial moon” that would be bright enough to replace the streetlights in the south-western city of Chengdu by 2020, ABC News has reported.
The illuminated satellite is said to be eight times brighter than the real moon, according to state media People’s Daily, and highlights 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.
Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Corporation which developed the project, said the illuminating satellite would provide a “dusk-like glow”.
“The satellites’ brightness and service time are both adjustable, and the accuracy of the lighting can be controlled within tens of metres,” Wu said about the project.
Wu added 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 and could also be used to light up areas experiencing power outages caused by natural disasters such as earthquakes.