Published: Fri, October 19, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

China to launch 'moon' to light up city at night

China to launch 'moon' to light up city at night

The southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu intends to launch a fake moon into space in that researchers expect would orbit about 500 kilometres above the earth. If the effort is successful, it would likely mean the city would have the equivalent of a full moon every night rather than just at certain times of the month.

According to local reports picked up by the Asia Times, the city has been evaluating the technology behind an artificial moon for years and has tested it enough to feel it's ready for launch.

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. However, an expert told the People's Daily that the artificial moon's light shouldn't be so bright that it would impact them.

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The project has sparked concern from the public, as many began to worry that the lights reflected from space could affect the daily routines of certain animals.

According to the International Dark Sky Association, which advocates for the protection of night skies, living under light-polluted skies is a grave health hazard as our biological clock evolved to match the day-night cycle, and exposure to artificial light at night has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, sleep disorders, depression and more.

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Officials have released few details on the project, but say the idea pulls inspiration from a French artist who envisioned a necklace of mirrors hanging over Earth.

In the 1990s, Russian Federation carried out an experiment called Banner, testing the idea of using a mirror to reflect the sun light to Earth.

In addition to Tian Fu New Area Science Society, other universities and institutes, including the Harbin Institute of Technology and China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, are involved in developing Chengdu's illumination satellites.

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