A new Chinese satellite may provide an answer to the problem of light pollution in cities

A new Chinese satellite may provide an answer to the problem of light pollution in cities

We are struggling with light pollution in cities because, let’s be honest, we all miss the stars that outshine the bright city lights. However, the answer to this problem has appeared in the form of the SDGSAT-1 satellite developed by Chinese scientists. This marvel of Earth science is making extremely rapid progress in analyzing the impact of modern lighting on cities. The team behind this innovative approach, from the Institute of Aerospace Information of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has demonstrated a method that could change the way we light our city nights.

While LEDs reduce carbon emissions, they increase blue light pollution

The shift to energy-efficient lighting, mainly using LEDs, has proven to be a double-edged sword. While reducing carbon emissions, it has created a new problem: blue light pollution. This not only affects human health, but also disrupts wildlife and wastes energy. The need to address this problem has never been more urgent.

Imagine SDGSAT-1 – a satellite equipped with the ability to recognize different light sources with incredible accuracy. Focusing on Beijing, scientists have demonstrated a 92-95 percent success rate in identifying different types of artificial night lighting (ALAN) and streetlights. This high-resolution, multispectral analysis is a game-changer, offering a clear picture of how light pollution varies in different parts of the city.

This research does not just highlight the problems, it opens the door to smarter urban planning. With a detailed understanding of the spatial distribution of light pollution, city planners can now make informed decisions to reduce its impact. The data shows significant differences in lighting depending on road types and street lighting technologies, emphasizing the role of thoughtful infrastructure development in reducing pollution.

Launched to support the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, this satellite provides invaluable data for monitoring how we interact with the environment. Last year’s release of the world’s first atlas of city night lighting, covering 147 cities in 105 countries, is just the beginning.


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