Artificial moon: China’s next ambition in space exploration

Artificial moon: China’s next ambition in space exploration

What would happen, if I told you that humans are building artificial moons to illuminate the city? You would definitely say that you are an idiot and have lost your mind completely, it can’t be possible by anyhow. But please, whatever I’m going to tell you is 100% genuine and authentic. We are living in the age of Science and it can make possible and feasible almost anything as time progresses which seems to be infeasible by now. In this article, we will discuss the building and launching of the artificial moon into the earth’s orbit. So without any further ado, let’s get started.

The artificial moon

By 2020, the Tian Fu New Area Science Society of China plans to launch an artificial moon, which will orbit about 300 miles (500 kilometers) above the city Chengdu of China and use its mirror-like coating to reflect sunlight down to earth to light up the night sky.

If all goes through according to the plan, the so-called “illumination satellite” would orbit above the Chengdu city and glow in conjunction with the actual moon, but shine eight times brighter.

The organization says it will launch three more satellites in 2022 potentially replacing streetlights in urban areas. The plans were announced by Wu Chunfeng, chief of the Tian Fu New Area Science Society, at an innovation conference in Chengdu on October 10, 2018.

Despite shining light in a similar way, Wu, says that the satellite boasts one advantage that this human-made moon has humans control, both the location and brightness of the human-made moon can be altered and it can be completely shut off if necessary.

And since the satellite is mobile, it can assist in disaster relief by beaming light on areas that lost power.

Chinese “Artificial moon” concept. Image credit:

The three follow-up moons, though, will be able to cover much more ground. Working together, they’ll be able to illuminate 2,000 to 4,000 square miles (3,600 to 6,400 square kilometers) for up to 24 hours.

The reason behind building such a thing

The scientists estimated that this new artificial moons could save the city of Chengdu around 1.2 billion yuan ($173 million) in electricity costs annually, and could even assist first responders during blackouts and natural disasters. If the project proves successful, it could be joined by three more additions to the night sky in 2022.

Streetlight at night. Image credit: India Today

But much more testing needs to be done to ensure the plan is viable and will not have a detrimental effect on the natural environment.

They will only conduct the tests in an uninhabited desert, so the light beams will not interfere with any people or Earth-based space observation equipment.

Potential hurdles against the project

If you want any evidence that the plan might not be so sound, you need only look to Russia. Vladimir Syromyatnikov, an engineer who worked on the Soyuz-Apollo program actually tested out the concept of an artificial moon in 1994 without any success.

The biggest concern in the above-mentioned project is that a satellite flying low enough to deliver that much light wouldn’t be able to stay in one place.

Satellites that stay over a fixed point on the Earth, what’s called a geostationary orbit, sit much further away, about 22,000 miles.

At that distance, the reflective surface would need to be massive to deliver enough light for humans to see back to Earth. At a distance of just 300 miles, the moon would whip around the Earth at thousands of miles per hour, beaming its light on any one place for only a fraction of a second.

A constellation of satellites circling the Earth would be necessary to keep the lights on all night, trading off reflective duties to one another as they passed by overhead. And even then, fuel is necessary to counteract the tiny atmospheric drag present even in low orbits above Earth.

The International Space Station(ISS), for example, orbits at about 250 miles up and must be constantly boosted back to its orbit as it slows down due to drag.

Side effects and concerns

Some cities across the globe are already trying to cut down on light pollution, making their nights darker, not brighter.

Excess night-time light disrupts the activities of nocturnal animals, blocks out the stars and could even be interfering with their rhythms and impacting health.

It will make an impact on the sleep patterns of humans and animals as well. But Wu Chunfeng told China Daily that its expected brightness in the eyes of humans is around one-fifth of normal streetlights.

Today, when many worry that urban nights are too bright, the concept of an artificial moon seems largely unnecessary. Streetlights already provide us with adequate light, and new LED options could help cut down on electricity costs.

So that’s it for today guys. Did you enjoy reading this article? If so, then please share it. If you have any suggestions and queries related to the post, let me know in the comment section below. Please do like and share this post to your near and dear ones to explore the knowledge you must know.

Thank you.

Anil Kashyap

I want to explore new things every single moment of life. Life motto: Learn and teach as much as you can until your last breath.

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