The world’s first man-made moon is expected to be put into orbit in less than two years.
Chinese scientists hope to have the moon, which is basically a satellite designed to complement the moon, illuminating city streets by 2020.
The moon will have a reflective coating that deflects sunlight back to the Earth, causing it to shine similarly to the moon.
China Daily says the man-made moon will be put into orbit by the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, above Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province.
It is planned to orbit about 310 miles above Earth. That’s about 235,000 miles closer than the real moon. Because of this, it is predicted it will shine eight times brighter than the actual moon.
“This is not enough to light up the entire sky,” said Wu Chungfeng, the head of Tian Fu New Area Science Society in Chengdu. “Its expected brightness, in the eyes of humans, is around one-fifth normal streetlights."
It will illuminate enough that it could provide extra light during disaster zone blackouts, giving much-needed relief and aid to rescue workers.
The location and brightness of the beam will have the ability to be changed, according to China Daily, and it will become a way of replacing some street lights in urban areas, therefore saving energy costs — roughly $174 million annually in the city of Chengdu.
Even though several universities and institutes have given their approval on the man-made project after evaluation, Wu did have some criticism, mentioning the possibility of physiological consequences for people and animals. He said the absence of regular alternations between night and day could disrupt metabolic patterns, including sleep.
He said the testing phases are being done in an uninhabited desert.
“Our light beams will not interfere with any people or Earth-based space observation equipment," Wu said. "When the satellite is in operation, people will see only a bright star above, and not a giant moon as imagined."
He added there is still work to be done, but that the moon that is planned to be launched into orbit in 2020 is just experimental.
“Three moons in 2022 will be the real deal with great civic and commercial potential,” Wu said.
He said many countries, including the United States, are looking to capitalize on harnessing energy from space, and that reflecting mirrors have long been in discussion as a way to do so.
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