A Japanese company announced that it has a technology to create the world's first artificial meteor shower. The Toyko-based startup ALE said it has almost completed the technology needed to put spectacular shooting stars in the sky -- anywhere and at any time.
The program works by using micro-satellites. Those small satellites can carry up to 400 pellets that look like shooting stars. These pellets burn upon entering Earth's atmosphere, and the glow is just bright enough to be seen from the ground.
The company points out that while it's an artificial meteor shower, they took inspiration from how shooting stars happen in real life.
"Natural shooting stars occur when dust particles of several millimeters in size enter the Earth's atmosphere and burn due to plasma emission," the company explains.
"ALE reproduces this artificially by inventing shooting star particles and using specially designed microsatellites. The process is as follows – we launch a microsatellite containing shooting star particles into outer space; we release shooting star particles from the microsatellite once it stabilises in orbit around the Earth; the particles travel approximately one third of the way around the Earth and burn upon entering the atmosphere."
The first satellite is set to debut in March of next year. ALE expects it will go into space via a rocket from the Japanese space agency. A second mini-satellite is expected to go up in mid-2019 via a private sector rocket. The ultimate goal is to have them in orbit by February 2020 and delivering a meteor shower to Hiroshima sometime in the spring of 2020. The pellets should be visible to millions of people, and the show has an expected range of 124 miles.
"We are targeting the whole world, as our stockpile of shooting stars will be in space and can be delivered across the world," ALE chief executive Lena Okajima told a news conference.
The company has been rather silent as to what goes into the pellets. However, ALE researchers have stated the contents can be changed into a variety of colors depending on the need.
The two satellites expected to go up first will have enough pellet power for 20 to 30 events. Each star is expected to last at least a few seconds before burning up, making the synthetic shower a bit longer lasting than most meteor showers.
According to reports, ALE plans on spending $20 million on the entire operation, and each satellite will be able to stay in space for two years.