China to Bring a Camera Surveillance System to the Moon

The moon above the Earth's horizon.

In a development that sounds straight out of a science fiction movie, China may bring its national surveillance system to its planned lunar base.

China has been known for its wide-reaching surveillance network, referred to as Skynet.

“The construction and operation of the optical surveillance system for the (International) Lunar Research Station can draw on the successful experience…of China‚Äôs Skynet project,” the Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Centre of the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said in a paper published in the Chinese academic journal Acta Optica Sinica on February 22, according to the South China Morning Post reported.

The outlet reported the country’s surveillance system as having “600 million cameras, averaging one camera for every two adult Chinese citizens and covering virtually every nook and cranny of the country.” Similarly, China’s use of connected surveillance cameras would reportedly create a seamless view of lunar base area, according to the South China Morning Post. The publication additionally explains that the proposed base would stretch to a radius of 3.7 miles, a sizable plot of the moon’s surface.

This, according to the plans laid out by the CNSA, would help the nation operate the eventual facility with greater efficiency, allowing those back on Earth to keep track of areas that need continuous surveillance. The cameras are expected to come equipped with “AI-driven chips,” according to the South China Morning Post. But the newspaper points out that the heavy amount of data would face obstacles being transmitted back and forth, including limited bandwidth. Plus, the cameras will face more extreme conditions than on Earth, especially regarding varying temperatures.

Still, China has repeatedly faced a great deal of scrutiny over its surveillance measures. Many critics have cited privacy and security concerns over the years, issues that can only be amplified through increased use. Though a lunar base will likely have a much different use case than within the country, it remains to be seen how people will respond to the proposal. It is clear this is a long-term project, one that could shape what lunar development might look like, not just only for China.

Image credits: NASA Johnson