The night skies might soon have company: Chinese scientists are planning to launch an artificial moon into orbit by 2020 to illuminate city streets after dark.
Scientists are hoping to hang the man-made moon above the city of Chengdu, the capital of China’s southwestern Sichuan province.
The fake moon is said to be eight times brighter than the actual moon and, when it’s installed in 2020, will provide a ‘dusk-like glow’ over the region.
It will also appear much closer to Earth; about 500 km (310 miles) away, compared to the moon’s 380,000 km (236,000 miles).
But the plan still wouldn’t “light up the entire night sky,” Wu Chunfeng, chief of the Tian Fu New Area Science Society, told.
“Its expected brightness, in the eyes of humans, is around one-fifth of normal streetlights.”
Wu estimated that new 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, he said.
The artificial moon idea was inspired by a French artist, who imagined hanging ‘a necklace made of mirrors’ above the Earth, in order to reflect sunshine through the streets of Paris.