The thinking is to save a hefty sum in electricity costs, according to Wu Chunfeng, chairman of the Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co., who is behind the scheme.
The satellite will reportedly be eight times brighter than the real moon and could replace street lights. The fake moon will supposedly be able to light up an area up to about 50 miles in diameter, and also be remotely controllable for light precision.
A city in China wants to put an artificial moon in space to act sort of like a massive streetlight. Citing the imagined French necklace of mirrors as the impetus for the project, Chunfeng explained that the technology behind the satellite has been in the testing phase for years but is finally near completion. However, an expert told the People's Daily that the artificial moon's light shouldn't be so bright that it would impact them.
IFLScience reports that "the moon would be a satellite with a special coating that would reflect the light of the Sun onto Chengdu during the night". Russian scientists tried it in 1993; a second go in 1999 prompted "preemptive concerns about light pollution disrupting nocturnal animals and astronomical observation", The Guardian reports.
A Chinese city's plans to launch a man-made moon to replace street lights has been met with derision and incredulity online.
However, Wu stressed that much work still needs to be done, both in terms of scientific feasibility and business models, to tap into the full potential of China's artificial moons. The Telegraph's Joseph Archer reports that Russian scientists launched a mirror-equipped spacecraft created to brighten Siberia's sun-deprived streets back in 1999.