China May Soon Have a Second (Artificial) Moon

A giant model of the moon on display during China’s Mid Autumn Festival

A giant model of the moon on display during China’s Mid Autumn Festival

One moon apparently isn't enough for the Chinese city of Chengdu, according to a report in the People's Daily.

Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute, made the announcement at a recent conference and said the new moon could replace some street lights. According to an article in People's Daily, the artificial moon is "designed to complement the moon at night", though it would be eight times as bright.

People's Daily was quick to reassure those concerned about the fake moon's impact on nighttime wildlife.

The angles of these wings can then be adjusted to allow the light to focus on a precise location.

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Officials in the city hope the artificial moon will bring in more tourists once it is in the sky.

State media reports were quick to dispel any potential worries about what sort of damage the project could do to the environment, quoting an expert as explaining that the light of the satellite would be "similar to a dusk-like glow" and so should not throw off animals' routines. However, the exact details of the spacecraft, the launch date and how the artificial moon would be maintained were not revealed.

Moonlit skies over the Chinese city of Chengdu may soon get a boost from a second moon.

This isn't the first time researchers have tried to illuminate the skies with artificial rays. Still, the underlying concept embraced by the experiment - which The New York Times described at the time as a test of "the feasibility of illuminating points on Earth with light equivalent to that of several full moons" - remains an enticing prospect. The Telegraph's Joseph Archer reports that Russian scientists launched a mirror-equipped spacecraft created to brighten Siberia's sun-deprived streets back in 1999. And, by 2020, it may even become reality.

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