Earth Soon to Get Second ‘Moon’ as China Plans to Launch One That’s Eight Times Brighter

What do you think about the moon?

Well, it’s a beautiful thing that illuminates the dark roads in rural areas – and is perfect for romantic strolls! But while the moon can provide light for dark countryside roads, especially when it is a full moon, it is also a reality that its light is somewhat negligible in modern cities where the streets are illuminated by street lights.

Now, street lights illuminate the streets several times better than the moon but this does come with a high cost – and one city in China hopes to solve the electricity problem regarding the street lights by launching a new moon that is supposed to be eight times brighter than the ‘old’ one!

The artificial moon will complement the Earth’s natural satellite and if things go according to plan, it will be up in the sky by 2020! Whoa.

Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute chairman Wu Chunfeng claimed that the artificial moon will replace the streetlights of Chengdu.

It will supposedly save the city some 20 billion yuan ($2.9 billion) within 5 years after it is launched; however, the Chinese engineers have not disclosed how much the artificial actually costs to build and launch into space.

Photo credit: China Plus

The ambitious project aims to rival the moon but this will only be enough to light up Chengdu, with the artificial satellite capable of illuminating a diameter of close to 50 miles (80 km).

Some scientists raised concerns, however, about the satellite’s effect on Earth, particularly to wild life and to space observations. But the director of the Institute of Optics at the Harbin Institute of Technology, Kang Weimin, claimed that this should not be a problem at all because though the artificial moon will be eight times brighter than the natural one, it will just be equivalent to a ‘very bright night’.

This ‘new’ moon would appear to have a dusk-like glow that would be enough to light up the streets but not affect the wild life, the engineers behind the project claim.

As ambitious and crazy as it might sound, this is actually not the first time someone attempted to rival the moon and create a new one. In 1993, Russia apparently sent a giant ‘mirror’ to space, in a similar attempt to light up its streets. It did beam down light to Russia but days later, it burned up as it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere. Ouch.

The project had been deemed too costly to replicate, especially because it enjoyed too little success. But will the Chinese one be much better? We’ll find out in 2020…

Sources: Business Insider, Live Science, Smithsonian Magazine