In large part due to increasingly strained global resources, government and civil society alike have been actively seeking solutions in the past decade which strongly support sustainability and will help to ensure a relatively comfortable future for mankind on our planet. With schemes ranging from ambitious plans to begin populating the neighboring planet of Mars, to looking into the potential of energy storage via ancient firebricks, answers are being sought everywhere.
One of the suggestions put forth which is drawing the most attention involves plans being considered by the Chinese government to launch an artificial moon into space which would respond to many of the rising energy demands of the country. It is planned for the southwest city of Chengdu, and the efforts are headed by Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co., Ltd.
Although plans have been in the works since as early as 2013, the reality is coming much closer now, with information emerging that the illumination satellite could be up in the sky and operational as soon as 2020. Wu revealed detailed plans for the operation at the 2018 National Mass Innovation and Entrepreneurship Week which was held earlier this month in China. The massive annual fair showcases some of the most innovative emerging technologies in the country.
The plan behind the artificial moon
As one would imagine, this has been a very ambitious undertaking for the company. According to information shared in the local periodical The People's Daily, the moon, which would generate a "dusk-like glow", could light an area that covers a diameter ranging from 10-80 km (no doubt while reading this, some of our IE readerships has already begun picturing images of the Batman logo and the residents of Gotham City).
What's more, the proposed second moon would shine 8 times brighter than the real moon, and most importantly from a logistical perspective, could be controlled within a significant range of at least a few dozen meters. Part science, part stranger than fiction, the satellite offers promising possibilities, with Wu pointing to the original inspiration behind the glowing orb in the sky by referring to "a French artist, who imagined hanging a necklace made of mirrors above the Earth which could reflect sunshine through the streets of Paris all year round".
The future of the second moon
Although similar plans like Wu's have been imagined in various countries before. However, what sets Chinese plan has more will, and backing, behind executing and supporting projects like these. More importantly, China is more serious about alternate plans for generating and harvesting energy resources.
We owe this dynamic development to industry leaders who have been continuing to put forth and articulate bold and innovative visions in recent years, and with this momentum, gradually enlist the support of local government for transforming their plans into reality.
Interesting Engineering will continue updating this story as more information becomes available.