By Prarthana Mitra
As the cost of urban electrification reaches unsustainable limits, advanced economies all over the world are coming up with the most innovative of solutions to cut electricity costs and switch to sustainable power sources at the same time. China, for one, is reportedly building an artificial moon that boasts of being 8 times brighter than the earth’s natural satellite.
What purpose does that serve?
Scientists and techpreneurs at Chengdu are developing ‘illumination satellites’ to source light from the real moon (which, in turn, shines by the light of the sun). Several illumination satellites will be placed in front of the other to turn up the brightness on Chengdu’s skyline and render all streetlights obsolete, thus saving the city an estimated 1.2 billion yuan ($170 million) a year in electricity costs. Considering that the man-made moons (claim to) illuminate an area of 50 square kilometres, light from it can also be instrumental to rescue operations in disaster zones, and even function as the backup power during blackouts.
When can we expect to see it in the sky?
According to China Daily, the first artificial moon will be operational by 2020. It will be launched from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the Sichuan province, followed by three more in 2022 depending on the success of the experimental maiden moon.
The subsequent satellites will be the “real deal,” the ones with “great civic and commercial potential,” said Wu Chunfeng, head of Tian Fu New Area Science Society which is spearheading the project, alongside Harbin Institute of Technology, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp.
Wu unveiled the pilot project at a conference for innovators and entrepreneurs in Chengdu on October 10. However, this is not the first time China made the sky their own. The Asian nation is the most trigger-happy cloud seeder in the world, creating over 55 billion tonnes of artificial rain annually to compensate for acute water shortages.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius.
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