Chinese city plans 'artificial moon' to light up skies

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The southwestern city of Chengdu will be the focus of an illumination satellite, reports the People's Daily.

According to local media reports, the idea was presented earlier this month by Wu Chunfeng, chairman of the - take a deep breath - Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co.

The satellite will reportedly be eight times brighter than the real moon and could replace street lights.

According to Wu, the company started testing this satellite years ago, having developed the technology sufficiently enough for it to be launched. The artificial moon is made from a reflective coating that can aim the sun's light back to Earth and cover a span of 6 miles to 50 miles.

If Chengdu can get approval for the artificial moon and actually launch it in space in the next couple of years, the city is hopeful it'll help it save money on illuminating its streets.

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The moon just doesn't cut it anymore for one Chinese city.

Controls on the satellite will allow light levels to be configured and controlled, Wu told a conference of entrepreneurs, and the final object would be able to reflect light on a 10 to 80 mile area, well within the city's area.

The moon orbits the Earth about 380,000 km from the Earth, while the man-made moon is expected to be put on an orbit within 500 km from the Earth, the state-run China Daily reported.

The project has sparked concern from the public, as many began to worry that the lights reflected from space could affect the daily routines of certain animals. 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.

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