What You Need To Know About The Pellets For Japan's Man-Made Meteor Shower


Japan's spectacular plan for the opening ceremony of the 2020 Olympics is unlike anything we have seen before.

As reported by Tech Times, startup company Star-ALE plans to create a man-made meteor shower called "Sky Canvas" for the Olympics, instead of the usual pyrotechnics display.

To turn this into a reality, Star-ALE will send microsatellites that could carry about 500 to 1,000 pieces of pellets called "source particles" into space.

These pellets will ignite and glow as they re-enter our planet's atmosphere to create the artificial meteor shower effect.

Colorful, Combustible Pellets

Like fireworks, the flammable pellets will be likely made from several metals and elements that could burn in different colors. With this, Star-ALE will be able to control the hues of the artificial meteor showers.

Although the company did not disclose the exact material they will use to create the pellets, the chemical composition will also probably be made out of those known to produce different colors in real meteors.

David Samuhel of AccuWeather said the color of the meteor largely depends on the chemical makeup of the debris. Such is the case for the following:
1. Meteors made out of magnesium often emit a bluish-white light.
2. Meteors made out of nitrogen/oxygen emit light that is reddish-pink.
3. Meteors made out of iron will have a golden-yellow light.
4. For those made out of calcium, the light will be light purple.
5. For those made out of sodium, the light will be bright orange.
6. For meteors made out of magnesium, the light will be light blue.

To make sure the pellets work, a team of scientists led by Shinsuke Abe tested the special pellets at Nihon University.

The team placed the source particles in a vacuum chamber and blasted them with supersonic hot gases. This simulates the friction that the pellets will experience as they descend into the atmosphere.

What About Light Pollution Or Weather Issues?

Abe and his team have concluded that the burning brightness of the pellets can rise above the light pollution in Tokyo.

Meanwhile, Samuhel said weather at the predetermined time of the shower is crucial to the show's success.

"[A]ny clouds in the lower atmosphere will prevent the meteors from being visible," said Samuhel.

Space-Age Entertainment?

Star-ALE CEO Lena Okajima said making the sky a big screen is the main attraction of the project as an entertainment.

"I'm thinking of streams of meteors that are rare in nature," said Okajima.

The startup's project is an interesting glimpse into what private companies' access to space could offer.

The cost of one microsatellite is at $100,000 and each pellet costs $8,000, making it one expensive fireworks show, but it still seems cheaper compared to a 30-second Superbowl ad.

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