Launching a second moon into the sky sounds like the plot of a supervillain. However, it's a very real plan, and could save the Chinese city of Chengdu millions every year.
Chinese scientists are planning on creating a satellite by 2020 with a reflective coating to bounce the sun's rays onto city streets at night, the same process our moon uses to light up the night sky. Since the satellite will be much closer, it will shine brighter.
"But this is not enough to light up the entire night sky," Wu Chunfeng, head of Tian Fu New Area Science Society in Chengdu said. "Its expected brightness, in the eyes of humans, is around one-fifth of normal streetlights."
The artificial moon will have other uses and abilities, including being able to focus its light on specific areas to help with natural disasters at night, adjusting its coverage and luminosity, and even be "turned off" when not needed. However, all this possibility is not without risk. Wu himself pointed out the possible negative side effects of this project, including interrupting the sleep cycles of people and animals with a 24 hour light.
"We will only conduct our tests in an uninhabited desert, so our light beams will not interfere with any people or Earth-based space observation equipment," he said.
That worry seems to be a point of contention, as many have asked about this very thing.
@TIME Wait and watch this will drastically kill the Chinese ecosystem and environment as darkness is part of ecosystem— U P JAGTAP (@U P JAGTAP)1540044193.0
Circadian rhythms aside, some couldn't imagine why the lower amount of light the real moon produces wasn't enough.
@TIME I like the REAL moon....— Jordan Screams 🖤🕸️🦇 JORDAN GREENING💀🌹 (@Jordan Screams 🖤🕸️🦇 JORDAN GREENING💀🌹)1540067241.0
@TIME China already suffer from intense light pollution.— Kush (@Kush)1539944213.0
Real Moon > China Moon https://t.co/s6uFE90I28— Sonali (@Sonali)1539965488.0
@TIME So much for the movement to end light pollution...— DrKraz (@DrKraz)1539956541.0
Many were just plain confused.
@TIME https://t.co/iHYexlk0P6— 🔪Put Chucky in a time out.🔪 (@🔪Put Chucky in a time out.🔪)1539964443.0
What did I just read? 😲 #china #moon🌜 https://t.co/GkOwfDZg99— Bhavana Jaiswal (@Bhavana Jaiswal)1539955495.0
@TIME Weird flex but okay— Chase Southerland (@Chase Southerland)1539963459.0
There was some excitement for the project though.
@TIME I ain't mad. I'd love to see a full moon every night at the same time instead of once a month at who knows what time.— Adrienne Mills (@Adrienne Mills)1539952224.0
@TIME https://t.co/iFS1hWKCu2— Chris Allen (@Chris Allen)1539956611.0
And since there have been a deluge of artificial moons in popular culture, there had to be some references.
@TIME https://t.co/BRvRw2FRbh— Daniel Foster (@Daniel Foster)1539966411.0
@TIME Wasn’t that in a Bond movie? Ended Badly there.— Rod Bamberry (@Rod Bamberry)1539950590.0
@TIME @MaddenProducer Head of project - Vegeta, Prince of all Saiyans https://t.co/SiF5p0VXLB— Jay Bertovich 🏒🐧 (@Jay Bertovich 🏒🐧)1539944748.0
@TIME https://t.co/jpYl3xBrBB— bri (@bri)1539956197.0
If this launch goes well, more moons will be added to increase functionality and coverage. Wu spoke on the early testing nature of this project.
"The first moon will be mostly experimental, but the three moons in 2022 will be the real deal with great civic and commercial potential."