Meteor shower: New satellite will fire artificial ‘shooting stars’ into the skies

Tokyo-based startup Astro Live Experiences (ALE) has created a micro-satellite which will be placed into Earth’s orbit and release 400 tiny pellets which replicate shooting stars as they hit the planet’s atmosphere. The company revealed the first show will take place over Japan in 2020, but after that private companies and governments will be able to put on a meteor shower anywhere and anytime. The satellite, known as ALE-2, will also be able to produce different colours.

CEO Okajima Lena said: “With this launch, we are a step closer to realise the man-made shooting star. Please look forward to the world’s first demonstration we are aiming in 2020, which will be a major milestone for ALE.

“I’m pleased to have Rocket Lab for a partner, they have 100 percent mission success heritage for their customers.”

Once ALE-2 is in Earth’s orbit, ALE will begin conducting “operational tests” on the satellite, with plans for the ‘meteor display’ to take place in early 2020.

ALE said on its website: “Finally, in 2020, we will demonstrate the world’s first man-made shooting star. Details of the demonstration location are currently under consideration. We will announce this as soon as it is confirmed.”

Not only will the show be spectacular, but the company says it will help scientists learn more about natural meteors.

The Astro Live Experiences website reads: “By studying the path of artificial shooting stars where the angle of incidence, velocity and materials are known, we hope to be able to better understand the mechanics of naturally occurring shooting stars and meteorites.

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“The upper atmosphere where our shooting star particles will burn has few means of observation currently and remains one of the least understood portions of the atmosphere.

“The data collected via this project will be useful for predicting the path of satellites and artificial objects as they re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere.

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The International Meteor Organization (IMO) said: “Fireballs are meteors that appear brighter than normal.

“Due to the velocity at which they strike the Earth’s atmosphere, fragments larger than 1 millimetre have the capability to produce a bright flash as they streak through the heavens above.

“These bright meteors are what we call fireballs and they often strike fear and awe for those who witness them.”


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