China Wants to Replace Streetlights With a Trio of Artifical Moons

China Wants to Replace Streetlights With a Trio of Artifical Moons

One moon is enough for most of us, but not for officials of the Chinese city Chengdu. They want four, and are willing to spend a good amount of money to make it happen. The plan from Chinese leaders is to put three small, highly reflective satellites in orbit by around 2020. These satellites would reflect light at night and be be around 8 times brighter than the light from a full moon, enough to brighten the streets of Chengdu without spending any electricity on lighting. Such a plan, if it works, could save the city nearly $250 million in electricity costs per year, more than enough to justify the cost of the satellites.

Even though Chengdu wants three reflective satellites, they wouldn’t all operate at the same time. They’d work on a rotation, and only one would light up the city at a time. Each satellite would provide light in a circle between 6 and 25 miles wide, enough to guarantee coverage of at least the inner city, and sometimes enough to cover the entire metropolitan area. Officials also stated that these satellites could also be used to light up areas that don’t receive much artificial lighting, like rural areas or the sites of disasters like earthquakes or hurricanes. That’s assuming that they work as intended, of course. But if they do, it could help plenty of other cities end the scourge of light pollution.

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