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Why is China interested in installing hundreds of cameras on the Moon?

Why is China interested in installing hundreds of cameras on the Moon?
In a move that could pave the way for an incredibly ambitious stint of lunar exploration, China has announced intentions to establish an extensive array of cameras on the Moon!

Dubbed Skynet 2.0, this network draws inspiration from China's existing Skynet surveillance system on Earth. Skynet, also known as Tianwang, is the largest video surveillance network globally, with an estimated 600-700 million cameras covering almost every corner of the country, equating to roughly one camera for every two Chinese citizens.

Similar to its Earth-based counterpart, the upgraded lunar cameras and sensors will feature advanced technology. Weighing just 100 grams each, these cameras will be equipped with artificial intelligence to autonomously detect and track anomalies, triggering appropriate alarm signals and responses. They will capture footage in both visible and infrared light and can adjust their angles and views independently. Each node of Skynet 2.0 is designed to operate autonomously, even in the event of losing connection with Earth.

Surviving the harsh lunar environment poses significant challenges. The Moon lacks an atmosphere, subjecting anything on its surface to constant space radiation bombardment. With temperatures fluctuating between 100°C and -180°C, even robust equipment like Chandrayaan-3 couldn't endure beyond a single lunar day cycle. Nonetheless, these cameras are expected to remain operational for at least ten years on the lunar surface.
What's the purpose of these cameras?
Given the absence of lunar alien activity and variable weather, the question arises: what will these cameras observe?

According to project collaborators, including the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, and Zhejiang University, Skynet 2.0 will enhance the security of China's future lunar base. China aims to construct a mega-lunar research station spanning more than 12 kilometres in diameter, equivalent to the area encompassed by 12,000 football fields. This futuristic station will accommodate command, communication, power, scientific facilities, alongside a fleet of lunar robots.

The nation asserts that the base's long-term stability and safety necessitate an innovative security system, with some critical zones requiring continuous 360° monitoring. Moreover, the system must handle vast amounts of data transmission to and from Earth while ensuring security against potential terrorist attacks or interference from other nations.
Moon internet soon?
Interestingly, Skynet 2.0 isn't the only recent lunar research capturing attention. Scientists are exploring the deployment of a fibre optic cable network on the Moon to study lunar seismic activity further.

Known as Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS), inspired by Apollo missions' seismometers placed on the Moon in the 1970s, this network transforms fibre optic cables into a dense array of seismic sensors. This approach offers significant advantages, potentially providing thousands of sensors from a single cable.

By monitoring seismic waves generated by lunar quakes, DAS could offer insights into the Moon's internal composition and dynamics. The viability of this method was demonstrated using data from the Apollo missions, successfully identifying specific seismic wave phases.

These findings have been published in Seismological Research Letters and the Chinese academic journal Acta Optica Sinica.


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