Officials in China are planning to launch a man-made moon to rest in the sky above the south-western city of Chengdu.
Though the human-made moon will light up only Chengdu, the glowing ball will be visible across China and even overseas, Asia Times reported. However, an expert told the People's Daily that the artificial moon's light shouldn't be so bright that it would impact them. The plans were reportedly revealed by the Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co.at a Chinese innovation and entrepreneurship event that took place last week. Officials on the ground can control the diameter of the light to ensure it focuses precisely on the city and nowhere else, according to the report.
About concerns that the manmade moonlight will interrupt the normal day-night cycle of animals and plants, Wu said the light intensity and illumination time can be adjusted and the accuracy of illumination can be controlled within scores of meters.
For now, details on the proposed moon-including further satellite specifications, cost and launch date-remain scarce. The city also believes that tourists would be more likely to visit and see how the moon works during the night, according to the report.
This isn't the first time researchers have tried to illuminate the skies with artificial rays. A similar project was unveiled by Russian Federation in the 1990s, with the launch of a solar reflecting system - a "space mirror" - meant to produce light "equivalent to three to five full moons" covering an area approximately 3 miles (5 kilometers) in diameter, the New York Times reported in 1993.
In 1999, a Russian experiment to deploy a large mirror in space created to function like an artificial moon was unsuccessful after it failed to unfold properly. And, by 2020, it may even become reality.