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Talk about reaching for the moon and stars. A province in China took the ancient idiom quite seriously. China is planning to launch an artificial ‘moon’ into outer space by 2020 in an effort to curb electricity costs and provide a source of natural light. The artificial moon will launch above Chengdu, a city located in the southwestern part of the country. The light emanating from this proposed moon will have the intensity of 1/5th of normal streetlights but is described as being eight times brighter than the actual moon. The fake moon is expected to be launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China's Sichuan province and will provide first responders with sufficient light to the natural disaster-prone country. This venture has the potential to slowly replace streetlights all throughout. The ‘moons’ could save about 1.2 billion Yuan (173 million USD) in annual electricity costs.
The proposed satellite has one clear advantage— you can switch the intensity or change the location according to the requirement.
The object will hover 310 miles above the atmosphere of the Earth, a far cry compared to the actual moon which orbits our Earth from 236,000 miles away. If this venture turns out to be successful, additional moons could be launched in the coming years. How would it work? Well, the ‘moon’ will use a mirror-like coating to reflect sunlight down to Earth. Concerns about the implication on sleeping patterns of humans and animals are relevant, but the group is confident that the burden will be minimal. Even though the fake moon has the potential to replace streetlights and conserve energy, it won’t light up the entire night sky.
Skepticism aside, this new venture has the potential to change the way we use space energy if it succeeds. And if not, then maybe the residents of Chengdu will have something new to look up to on starless nights.
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