The Chinese city of Chengdu is most famous for its pandas, but may soon become known for an altogether stranger sight, as a private space contractor has revealed plans to launch an “artificial moon” satellite above the skyline.
The satellite will be up to eight times as bright as the real moon, which would make it capable of replacing traditional streetlights across the city.
Details about how this will actually work are thin on the ground, with some media in China reporting the satellite will use solar panel-like wings that will reflect the sun, adjustable to focus on specific locations on the ground.
The project was announced by Wu Chunfeng, the chairman of private space contractor Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute, during National Mass Innovation and Entrepreneurship Week in Chengdu.
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“The satellite’s brightness and service time are both adjustable, and the accuracy of the lighting can be controlled within tens of metres,” said Chunfeng.
Although the project is not yet backed by Chengdu authorities or the Chinese government, the satellite’s potential to cut costs on streetlights and boost local tourism might make it an attractive prospect.