Earth might soon have a second moon as China plans to launch a new one

MANILA, Philippines – The moon has been the Earth’s sole natural satellite since it formed around 4.51 billion years ago, just shortly after the Earth formed some 4.54 billion years ago.
Earth might soon have a second moon as China plans to launch a new one

But while the moon holds control over the Earth’s tides and reflects the sun’s light at night, the light it provides the Earth could never rival that of the sun. In fact, the illumination is not enough to light up the ground the same way that the sun or man-made streetlights could.

Because powering street lights can be costly, one city in China hopes to launch a second moon up in the sky so that the city will be illuminated at night.

Wu Chunfeng leads Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co. Ltd. (CASC), the primary contractor of the project. The Chinese program aims to illuminate Chengdu with the second ‘moon’ that would be eight times brighter than the Earth’s natural satellite.

moon over mountain
Photo credit: By Jessie Eastland [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

Because the artificial moon is going to be so bright and could light up an area of around 80km in diameter, Chengdu will no longer need streetlights. But though this new ‘moon’ would rival that of the real one in terms of brightness, as the team claims, it won’t ever replace the moon and could actually just light up Chengdu.

However, the artificial moon will be visible all over China and several neighboring regions.

moon over China
Photo credit: China Plus

This sparked concerns over the effects of this ‘second moon’ over a number of things, including how it would affect wildlife and interfere in astronomical observations.

The concern was addressed by the director of the Institute of Optics of the Harbin Institute of Technology in China, Kang Weimin, who claimed that though this artificial moon will be equivalent to 5 full moons, it would only be able to provide a dusk-like glow.

To date, details regarding the ‘second moon’ are still top secret; though Chengdu officials are hoping this would be launched as planned in 2020. The company has not also released how it intends to launch the artificial moon into the sky or how it would keep it into geostationary orbit and focused only on Chengdu.

— Joy Adalia, The Summit Express

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