Making a brighter moon


What is it? An artificial moon

Innovator: Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Co.

What were they thinking? The moon can cast a lovely glow. But let’s face it, the service is pretty spotty — what with the waxing and waning. Now, the leading private contractor for China’s space program is offering a fix: an artificial moon, eight times as bright as the original, that would hang over the Chinese city of Chengdu. Illumination could be controlled “within tens of metres,” the Guardian reports, enabling it to replace street lights.

Does it work? Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace, says testing for the moon — or “illumination satellite” — has been going on for years. And the technology should be ready to deploy in 2020, he says. But similar efforts have run into trouble in the past. In 1993, Russian scientists successfully tested a space mirror that cast the sun’s rays over the darkened side of the earth. But a second test failed when the craft got caught on the Mir space station’s antennae. Proponents have been unable to raise the money for another try, leaving us with the same old low-wattage moon we’ve always had.