The so-called illumination satellite set to deploy over the southwestern city of Chengdu in 2020 is touted to be eight times as bright as the real moon, to cast a ‘dusk-like glow’ over the region, according to the People’s Daily.
Officials have released few details on the project, but say the idea pulls inspiration from a French artist who envisioned a necklace of mirrors hanging over Earth.
Wu Chunfend, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co., Ltd, revealed the plan at an event in the city on Oct 10, People’s Daily reports.
It will complement the moon to make Chengu’s night skies brighter when it launches in 2020, potentially serving as a replacement to conventional streetlights.
The artificial moon can be controlled to light up an area between 10 and 80 kilometers wide 6 to 50 miles).
While it might sound implausible, Wu says the technology has been in the works for years and has now ‘matured’ toward readiness.
Whether the plan will ultimately come to fruition, however, remains to be seen.
Chengdu’s artificial moon has already been met with criticism from skeptics and concerned citizens who argue that the light will have adverse effects on animals and astronomical observation, People’s Daily points out.
But according to Kang Weimin, director of the Institute of Optics, School of Aerospace, Harbin Institute of Technology, the light will amount only to a ‘dusk-like glow.’
It’s not the first time humans have attempted to launch a light-reflecting object into the sky – but in the past, such plans have largely ended in failure.