In recent years, the People’s Republic of China has pushed forward with large-scale and ambitious ideas, from the construction of an eco-city outside Beijing to the form-defying Harbin Opera House. Now, the southwestern city of Chengdu hopes to launch an illumination satellite functioning as an artificial moon by 2020.
The purported goal of this interstellar adventure is to cast a dusk-like glow over the area below, significantly reducing nighttime energy use and, in turn, monthly electricity bills. The satellite would reflect sunlight onto Chengdu during the night.
Reported by the People’s Daily, the man-made moon will work in tandem with the star’s nighttime illumination to further brighten the city below. Wu Chunfeng, chairman of the Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co., Ltd, believes that the galactic device could light an area of significant size, ranging from a diameter of 4 to 50 miles. Located significantly closer to the earth, Chunfeng estimates that it could provide eight times as much iridescence as the moon.
Revised prototype of Chengdu’s proposed “artificial moon” approved. https://t.co/Wdu2MKXIQN pic.twitter.com/tOTMTM90rE
— The Relevant Organs (@relevantorgans) October 17, 2018
While there have been concerns that beaming artificial light during nocturnal hours could disrupt animal migration and foraging, state media reports have dispelled these notions.
Although the scheme appears outlandish, The Guardian notes that similar initiatives reflecting sunlight at night have proved successful in both Russia and Norway, albeit at a much smaller scale and ambition.
Funding, or full state approval, has not yet been secured for the project.