24May2016

Japanese Startup Wants To Create Artificial Meteor Showers

Shower

Sky Canvas man-made meteor shower rains glowing pellets from space

The Japanese company Star ALE is working on a business concept that combines entertainment with space exploration. The start-up has developed a type of artificial meteor that it will launch from satellites.

In effect it will be creating man-made meteor showers that can be ordered to light up the sky at specific locations and times. True! At the same time, the project will generate new insights into a part of the Earth’s atmosphere that is relatively unknown.

First big steps under way

ALE is busy testing and further developing its technology. If the project continues on schedule, 2018 will see the first launch of a microsatellite system that will deliver the shooting stars. The satellite itself will come from the Japanese company Axelspace, and measure roughly 50 x 50 x 50 centimetres.

The satellite will carry equipment for communication and control, a meteor launcher system and the meteors themselves. ALE plans to put up to 1000 micro-meteors in each unit. The whole system will weigh somewhere north of 50 kilograms.

Illustration of the possible colours for the artificial meteors. Credit: Star ALE.

Illustration of the possible colours for the artificial meteors. Credit: Star ALE.

Once in orbit, the satellite flies in a sun-synchronous orbit over the North and South Pole. Moving at 7.8 kilometres a second, each orbit takes roughly 90 minutes. As the Earth spins on its axis, the satellites will pass over various regions each time. Much like cutting our planet into segments similar to an orange. Once the satellite is set to pass over the desired area, a signal from Earth tells it when and how many of its micro-meteorites to release.

The meteors enter the atmosphere, and the friction leads them to burn as shooting stars. However, there are two noticeable differences. One is that they will burn slower than natural shooting stars. Secondly, they will burn in different colours – white, blue, green and orange.

ALE guards the exact chemical recipe that makes this possible. It does, however, say that it is busy developing more colours, and has released a chart that shows some of the possible colours, as well as some of the prime materials they rely on.  Source: Forbes

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