Swedish cosmetics company plans to brighten Moon

Posted on Apr 21 2014 - 10:14pm by IBC News

A Sweden-based cosmetics company has proposed a bizarre new method to eliminate the need for streetlights – brighten the surface of the Moon.

The idea is to use materials already on the Moon to lighten its surface. The goal is to reflect slightly more sunlight onto Earth, making the night sky brighter, according to the company’s think-tank Foreo Institute.

A brighter night sky would mean less need for streetlights, which could potentially translate to less electricity usage and thus fewer globe-warming carbon emissions, it said. “We want to raise public awareness about the project and generate consciousness about the global energy crisis,” said Paul Peros, CEO of Foreo.

The proposal has a hint of “marketing scheme” to it, but precisely why the cosmetics company came up with this idea remains unclear, ‘LiveScience’ reported. When asked, a company representative told the website that Foreo is an “innovation company” that engages with experts from diverse fields.

However, scientists are skeptical about the idea. “Making the Moon brighter is not something I’ve ever heard of in the geoengineering literature,” said Ben Kravitz, a postdoctoral researcher in the atmospheric sciences and global change division of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Foreo’s claims to have raised USD 52 million for research and testing and a timeline on the company’s website says its first Moon mission is slated for 2020 with new rovers deploying every three years.

According to Foreo, only about 0.1 per cent of the Moon’s surface would need to be transformed to reach 80 per cent of the “desired brightening effect.”

The company said it plans to use materials already available on the surface of the Moon to brighten it, but it is not clear how that would work. Peros said the company is investigating simply smoothing over a portion of the Moon’s surface to increase its reflectivity.

“Furthermore, we are looking at the surfaces and composition of the soil and materials that currently exist on the Moon and how to best utilise them,” he said.

Even if such a mission were successful, it could have side effects. Light at night can disrupt sleep and has been linked to increases in several types of cancer in lab animals. Foreo suggests the brightening effect would happen gradually over 30 years, allowing humans and animals time to adjust.