Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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space billboard

A earth-viewable advertisement in low-earth orbit
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According to my calculations it would be fairly easy to construct a large self-inflating "sign" that could be put in either low-earth or maybe polar orbit. The sign could be made of highly-reflective mylar to make it easily viewable at night with the naked eye (you could look at details with binoculars). Can someone calculate how long something like this would stay in orbit before falling to earth? Seems like something Coca-Cola or other large world-wide company that spends lots on advertising could easily do. Imagine a sign that anyone in the world could have an opportunity to see. Granted it wouldn't me viewable in overcast areas, nor could it be viewable to all at one time, but it would be less ephemeral than a multi-million dollar 15 second TV add. Maybe it could be multi-faceted and rotate so as to reveal the names of multiple sponsors.
sh4linux, Nov 30 2000

rowlycat's link http://www.newrules.org/info/space.html
[yamahito, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

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       IIRC, France was considering doing something like this for some anniversary of theirs recently; it was moreorless practicable, but would have done a lot of life-forms no good at all, because increasing night light disturbs so many lunar-triggered mating cycles.
hello_c, Nov 30 2000
  

       Somehow I see a similar scenario to that of Zelda 2: Marjora's Mask.
nick_n_uit, Dec 17 2000
  

       I wonder how much Mcdonalds would pay for a big "M" to be scrawled across the moons surface.....
Pretoria, Jan 11 2002
  

       Space Marketing Inc. had this idea, using Mylar, a few years back. It'd be as bright as the moon and drop back in in a few weeks. They were serious. Furore ensued.   

       Trying to hang on to their brilliant business idea (at cost, apparently, of hold on reality), the company suggested that instead of some huge space ad, a corporation could just pay for a giant green dot (this is true) to demonstrate its commitment to the environment.   

       There are too many ways to actually do space ads, if you think about it. Just wait until we have the McDonald's Meteor Shower, brightly buring objects flitting into the night-sky for a few seconds in a Golden Arches pattern.   

       Resluting legislation is in the link (thanks to Yamahito).
rowlycat, Dec 13 2002
  

       Wouldn't this have to be gigantic? possibly even of epic proportions?
notme, Dec 14 2002
  

       Well, I might've gone with the word "enormous".   

       Actually, this might be a use for all that space junk. You clean up all those dead satellites and stuff, herding them together to make your pattern; you get a one-time free ad as it burns up on re-entry (just, please leave the plutonium-powered stuff behind).
rowlycat, Dec 14 2002
  

       I'm against the 'inflate' part of the idea. As you hinted, your sign would be periodically impacted by bits of rocks zipping along. I'd like the see the sign have real beneficial aspects along with the purely commercial. The thing should reflect sunlight to where it was specifically wanted, or absorb sunlight and transduce it into broadcastable microwave energy (old idea). My understanding is that there is an orbiting space junk collector on the drawing boards already. As for the plutonium bits, throw them toward the sun.
gorath, Oct 08 2003
  
      
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