The illuminated orb is meant to complement the light of Earth's existing moon, and will be eight times brighter than the natural satellite, Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co. The radius of the reflected light will be adjustable from between 10 to 80 kilometers and can be directed to specific locations within a few dozen meters of accuracy.
Although many details about both the moon and whether it will actually launch are still unclear, Chunfeng said that it should appear in the sky by 2020, and that tests on the tech have been going on for years.
He added that the first artificial moon was largely an experiment but scientists hoped that the other moons that follow would be the "real deal", China Daily noted.
Moonlit skies over the Chinese city of Chengdu may soon get a boost from a second moon.
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The artificial moon will focus its light on the city of Chengdu, in southwestern China. We'll have to wait and see whether Chunfeng and his team can actually pull this one off.
The artificial moon, essentially an illuminated satellite, will hover 500 km above Earth, much closer than the moon's 384 km. A second attempt, called Znamya 2.5, was to be made in 1999, prompting preemptive concerns about light pollution disrupting nocturnal animals and astronomical observation. If it succeeds, it will be the first rover to explore the "dark side" of the moon.
Going back a bit further, in 1993, Russian engineers devised a plan to use giant mirrors to light up the night skies, launching a giant glistening sheet of aluminum-coated plastic film unfurled into a 65-foot diameter "space mirror" from the now-defunct MIR space station. However, Kang Weimin, director of the Institute of Optics in the School of Aerospace at Harbin Institute of Technology in China, said the light levels shouldn't be enough to change the behavior of fauna.
Mr Wu said lighting from the artificial moon covering 50 square kilometres in Chengdu could save about 1.2 billion yuan ($240 million) in electricity costs every year.