In a move that is certainly not the first step towards an Elysium-type society where the haves rule the stars and the have-nots blunder about below, China is launching an artificial moon into the sky. Made from a satellite coated in reflective material, the moon will glow in the night, illuminating the streets and cutting down on electricity used by street lights, Chinese state media reports. If all goes according to plan, the first moon will launch above the city of Chengdu in the Sichuan province in 2020. More moons will follow.
This energy-saving "illumination satellite" will orbit 500 kilometers above the Earth, casting a glow that is eight times stronger than the real moon, but one-fifth as bright as street lights, Wu Chunfeng, chief of the Tian Fu New Area Science Society, told China Daily. And it won't benignly sit up there to help folks get home at night. The coverage of the moon can reportedly be accurately adjusted within a few dozen meters, fine-tuned for luminosity, and used to pin-point and help disaster zones.
There are concerns the man-made moon will affect people and animals with light pollution, or impede scientific equipment. But the satellites will be tested in the desert first, Wu assured, and not launched until fully approved. Whether it will look totally eerie in the night sky or not remains to be seen.
Back in '90s, Russia tried to do a similar thing with a giant mirror to reflect sunlight on super cold Russians cities. That failed due to the mirror malfunctioning. Here's hoping China's fake moon plan doesn't turn into a sci-fi horror story situation.
Source: Esquire US