More on Russia's space mirror

John Carberry (kahless@iol.ie)
Tue, 15 Sep 1998 19:49:25 +0100

A while ago there was a discussion on this list about the giant mirror
Russia are planning to put into space. I just got this today:

                            "Moon, 2.0".


   You have to love this one if only for its sheer audacity (and its
   intent to, er, shine the light of day on yet another "absurd"
   science fiction idea.) According to the Aug. 24 TBTF, the Russian
   "Project Znamya" plans to put an artificial "second moon" in the sky
   to light up the long nights in the Siberian Arctic!

   Depending on where you live, you may get to see the light of this
   artificial moon in London, Krakow, Vancouver, and others cities soon
   after Znamya 2.5's Nov. 9 scheduled deployment (see
   http://www.energialtd.com/znam1.htm for maps and times.) The
   25-meter diameter Mylar reflector will illuminate a 6-kilometer
   footprint 5 to 10 times brighter than the full moon as it follows
   its test path around the Earth.

   If successful, this test is intended to lead to Znamya-3, deploying
   a 60-70 meter reflector in 2000
   (http://www.energialtd.com/znamya.htm). And a future project,
   "Tretie Svetilo" or "Third Light," could yield a new light in the
   night sky a hundred times brighter than Moon, 1.0!!

   Of course this idea of artificial daytime holds many interesting
   possibilities if we're willing to think "outside the nine dots." For
   example, RCFoC reader Douglas Alan Schepers is thinking about NASA's
   solar-powered Pathfinder, an experimental high-flying communications
   platform that may give satellites a run for their money
   (http://www.digital.com/rcfoc/980907.htm#Could_Comm_Satellites_Becom
   e) -- if only they wouldn't fall out of the sky when it got dark!

        "Just focus an array of satellite-mirrors on a tracking course
        with the Pathfinder paths, and night would be irrelevant. The
        light could even be set to pass through the atmosphere
        exclusively at high-altitudes --in a chord that does not
        dissect the hard part of Planet Earth itself-- thus not
        disrupting star-gazers..."

   There are certainly downsides to artificially brightening the night
   skies of our world (think nocturnal animals and astronomy), but if I
   lived in an area that rarely saw the light of day throughout the
   winter, these sky-born mirrors just might be the, um, bright spot of
   my day. However, for good or bad, what an amazing example of how the
   rapidly changing face of computing, and of technology in general, is
   helping us to change our world.

   From nanomachines, to the promise of 400 million transistors dancing
   on the head of a pin, to man-made lights in the night sky -- what an
   amazing time!




John Carberry
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