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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: What If China Created an Artificial Moon?

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We can build really big things in space.

Okay, not that big - yet.

But we've packed the Earth's lower orbit

with about 5,000 satellites -

some still functioning and some not.

What if we could build a bigger,

brighter satellite,

and put it into Earth's lower orbit?

Something that would reflect

so much sunlight

that we'd never have to turn our lights on again.

The largest satellite we've put into lower orbit,

the International Space Station,

is as long as a football field.

We assembled it in pieces in several launches,

and now it's revolving around the Earth

some 400 km (250 mi) above us.

How would we launch an artificial moon

that's ten times bigger than that,

and position it high above the Earth's surface?

Most of the Earth's satellites in low orbit

are operating just above the ISS.

Some of them are parked

in geostationary orbit,

about 35,000 km (22,000 mi)

above the Earths equator.

The real Moon revolves around us

from a distance of 380,000 km (236,000 mi) away.

But we don't need to put our artificial moon that far away.

We'd place it somewhere between the Earth and the ISS.

That's a good spot right there.

We'd have to make sure it maintains a speed of 27,400 km/h (17,000 mph).

Otherwise, it falls back to Earth.

We'd cover its surface

with some highly reflective material

so that it could bounce the light from the Sun back at us.

Then, we'd turn off our lights

and enjoy bright nights all year long.

If you're not into falling asleep with the lights on,

you'd need to get some very dark blinds for your bedroom.

Too bad animals wouldn't have the same option.

This new moon might cause havoc for nocturnal creatures

who rely on moonlight to mate,

hunt,

or navigate.

Too much light at night could mess around with your body too,

leading to obesity and a higher chance of heart disease,

diabetes and depression.

The artificial moon would also obscure the view of the natural sky.

Ground-based telescopes wouldn't be able to capture

images of deep space.

It could result in us giving up on our dreams

to go to distant stars -

imprisoning us on Earth forever.

Wait for it...

Some sources have reported

that Chinese space engineers are already working on it.

Their moon would be not just ten,

but eighty times bigger that the ISS.

It would shine 8 times brighter than the natural Moon,

and it would supposedly save them

$173 million/year in electricity bills.

However, we haven't seen the actual plans

or a development strategy, so...

don't be upset if an artificial moon

doesn't appear in the sky sometime soon.

We still like our natural, beautiful Moon

that we could colonize and

use as a cosmic airport for future space travel.

But that's a story for another WHAT IF.

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