- A plan to illuminate Russia's sun-starved
northern cities with a huge mirror in space has been postponed indefinitely
due to lack of funds, space officials say.
- The 100-foot space mirror, called Znamya
2.5, was designed to work like the moon by reflecting sunlight onto parts
of northern Russia, lighting them throughout the long, dark days.
- The Znamya, or Banner, would have been
launched in November.
- The mirror was to have been attached
to a cargo ship that would release it after the ship docked with the troubled
Mir space station.
- "We are struggling to raise funds
to send regular supplies to the station, let alone the Znamya," says
Sergei Gorbunov, a spokesman for the Russian Space Agency. "There
is no place for that mirror aboard the cargo ships because we can only
ferry the most vital supplies to the station."
- In 1993, Russia ran a similar experiment
called Znamya 2, but the mirror was barely visible on Earth, says Vera
Medvedkova, a spokeswoman for the Mission Control.
- The new Znamya was to have eventually
included a series of mirrors, and would have resembled a shooting star,
not a large object such as the moon, Gorbunov says.
- Space officials had planned to keep the
12-year-old Mir in orbit through the end of 1999, but the last crew is
now expected to depart next June.
RUSSIAN scientists are planning
to put what will appear to be a second moon, 10 times as bright as a full
Moon, into the night sky above London and other cities in November as part
of a scheme to end night-time.
- The orbiting space mirror will pass across
the night sky quickly, up to 16 times in 24 hours, but will last only one
night - Nov 9 - before burning up in the atmosphere. The reflecting spacecraft,
Znamya 2.5, is part of a Russian-led consortium's plan which bears some
similarities to the plot of the Bond film Diamonds are Forever.
- The Space Regatta Consortium, a group
of companies led by Energia of Korolev, near Moscow, wants to launch a
constellation of several hundred mirrors, each up to 100 times brighter
than the full Moon, to cast sunlight from the far side of the globe into
the darkest corners of Siberia during the Arctic winter and make city street
- But the proposal has alarmed environmentalists
and astronomers. Daniel Green, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics,
said: "I cringe to think that we could lose the night sky because
of all these companies with brain-dead ideas."
- David Thomas, of Bangor University, told
BBC Wildlife that almost any ecosystem "would get completely screwed
up" and that the permanent daylight could cause more Arctic ice to
melt. He said plants and animals depended on darkness. He said: "Everything
- sex, movement, feeding - is triggered by day length."
- Provided that there is little cloud on
the night, London, Brussels, Frankfurt, Kiev, Seattle and Quebec are among
the cities that will be lit up by what will appear to be a disc between
five and 10 times as bright as a full Moon. Some estimates say it could
appear to be up to half the size of the Moon. The previous experiment with
Znamya 1, a 60 ft wide space mirror, was hampered by cloud. At best, it
was only half as bright as the Moon since the reflector did not form a