That’s no moon, it’s a Chinese space light

The Long March-5 Y2 rocket takes off from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in Wenchang Hainan Province China

In Chengdu, there is reportedly an ambitious plan afoot for replacing the city's street lights: boosting the glow of the real moon with that of a more powerful fake one. The artificial moon is made from a reflective coating that can aim the sun's light back to Earth and cover a span of 6 miles to 50 miles. But little is known about the height, size and true brightness of the proposed artificial moon - all of which are factors that could affect its visibility to distant observers.

It also will have solar panel-like wings on its surface which can be adjusted for precise lighting. 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.

This info all comes via Wu Chunfeng, the chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co., who spoke last week at an innovation and entrepreneurship conference in Chengdu.

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Kang Weimin, director of the Harbin Institute of Technology's School of Aerospace, refutes these concerns, telling Calenne that the satellite will produce a dusk-like glow far too faint to transform night into day.

Wu told reporters the technology is now "mature" and will be launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in 2020.

This isn't the first time researchers have tried to illuminate the skies with artificial rays.

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The Znamya experiment was to "test the feasibility of illuminating points on Earth with light equivalent to that of several full moons", The New York Times said. 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.

A Chinese city is exhausted of relying on electricity and the regular old moon to provide lights around town at night. And, by 2020, it may even become reality.

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