China is considering the viability of establishing a manned radar station on the moon, but one Chinese scientist has already denounced the project as “a lunatic idea”.
The government has so far committed 16 million yuan (£1.8m) to the station, which would rely on a solar or nuclear power plant for energy and a team of moon-based engineers.
Scientists involved in the study say the facility’s powerful antenna could monitor a wider area of the planet than satellites, while producing clearer images of Earth, its seas and underground regions.
However, a number of Chinese scientists interviewed by the South China Morning Post argued that the scheme was a waste of money, time and human resources.
One space scientist who was informed of the project but not directly involved described it as “a lunatic idea” and said a network of spy satellites could perform the same service for “only a fraction of the cost”.
Professor Guo Huadong, a radar expert at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, proposed the idea in a research paper three years ago.
He said the radar, which would generate 1.4 gigabytes of data per second, far more than current long-distance space communications, would assist with monitoring extreme weather, earthquakes, crop production and the polar ice caps.
The South China Morning Post reported that the government is expecting a significant breakthrough in the project by 2020.