Mir Cosmonauts to Bounce Sunlight Off a Mirror Onto Cities on Earth

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Russian cosmonauts on Mir are scheduled to unfurl a giant mirror tonight that will reflect sunlight for brief periods on cities around the world, and will be visible in the northeastern United States. If the mirror works, residents of the cities could find themselves bathed in light that is five to 10 times brighter than light from a full moon. The periods of light could last from a few seconds to a few minutes.

The test of the Znamya (Russian for “banner”) system is designed to explore the feasibility of using such mirrors to provide cities in northernmost Russia with light during the long Arctic winter nights. The mirror, 25 yards in diameter, is made of a thin plastic coated with a thin veneer of aluminum.


Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II