The Independent

New moon, and we are not talking about ‘Twilight’

Shayan Malik, Cutting Edge Editor

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For China, one moon was not enough. In October, Wu Chunfeng, the chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute, announced plans to launch an “artificial moon” in 2020.

 

Chenfeng said that the point of the fake moon, an illumination satellite, was to replace the city of Chengdu’s streetlights. The satellite would be eight times as bright as the actual moon, complementing the moon at night while lighting the area with a diameter close to 50 miles. Just as sunlight is used as an energy source, the light from the illumination satellite could also act as one, causing a reduction in energy consumption.

 

Although this might seem as the answer to many problems, there are concerns that the artificial light would disturb astronomical observations. However, Kang Weimin, the director of the Institute of Optics at the Harbin Institute of Technology said the artificial moonlight would not be enough to cause any harm to biological systems.

 

Additionally, the funding for this project is still unclear as to whether it would be funded privately or through the government. Nonetheless, there is still so much we do not know about the project.  

 

An artificial moon has actually been attempted before. For example, Russia launched an illumination mechanism known as a space mirror in an effort to increase the length of the day by using a giant sheet of plastic attached to a spacecraft to reflect sunlight back to Earth. The space mirror briefly lit up the night, however the mirror burned up as it reentered the atmosphere and the project was terminated.

 

All in all, the world can expect to see a new satellite in space in the next two years. The “fake moon” has its proponents and critics, however, we will not know all of the facts until it is actually launched in the prospective year of 2020.

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New moon, and we are not talking about ‘Twilight’