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The project was introduced to the public by Wu Chunfeng, chairman of Chengdu Aerospace Science and Technology Microelectronics System Research Institute Corporation Co. A similar project was unveiled by Russian Federation in the 1990s, with the launch of a solar reflecting system - a "space mirror" - meant to produce light "equivalent to three to five full moons" covering an area approximately 3 miles (5 kilometers) in diameter, the New York Times reported in 1993. Citing the imagined French necklace of mirrors as the impetus for the project, Chunfeng explained that the technology behind the satellite has been in the testing phase for years but is finally near completion.

It will complement the moon to make Chengu's night skies brighter when it launches in 2020, potentially serving as a replacement to conventional streetlights.

According to the New World Atlas of Artificial Sky Brightness, light pollution in Chengdu now completely obscures the night sky, to the point that the sky is just not visible from the city.

Chengdu's artificial moon project was announced by Wu at an innovation and entrepreneurship conference in Chengdu on Oct 10.

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The project has sparked concern from the public, as many began to worry that the lights reflected from space could affect the daily routines of certain animals.

However, Wu stressed that much work still needs to be done, both in terms of scientific feasibility and business models, to tap into the full potential of China's artificial moons.

Asia Times reports that the satellite would have a "highly reflective coating to reflect light from the sun with solar panel-like wings whose angles can be adjusted".

This isn't the first time researchers have tried to illuminate the skies with artificial rays. The mirror failed to unfold in space and the experiment was halted. The real moon, of course, can usually be seen from anywhere on Earth. And, by 2020, it may even become reality.


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