Because fireworks aren't just spectacular enough anymore these days, there are now a bunch of people trying to make artificial meteor showers.
A Japanese startup is developing a new technology that could, for the first time ever, simulate meteor showers up in the sky. It aims to have it ready as early as 2020.
ALE, based in Tokyo, created micro satellites able to release tiny orbs, which glow brightly when they enter the atmosphere, simulating the awe-striking grandeur of a meteor shower. The company is highly secretive about which chemicals it uses to achieve the effect, but each satellite is said to carry 400 balls that can be tinkered to produce various colors.
Each "star" burns for at least several seconds and promptly flickers out long before they make contact on Earth. In other words, they pose no great harm to onlookers admiring the whole spectacle below.
Artificial Meteor Showers
ALE was founded in 2011 by entrepreneur Lena Okajima, who conceived the idea upon watching the Leonid meteor shower while she was still an undergraduate student of Astronomy at the University of Tokyo. She then earned a PhD before legitimately exploring the idea further and set up a feasibility study on the project.
"Natural shooting stars occur when dust particles of several millimetres in size enter the Earth's atmosphere and burn due to plasma emission," ALE explained. This is how the simulates a meteor shower:
"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."
When Will It Launch, And For How Much?
ALE's meteor showers will be visible on the ground from an area 200 kilometers in diameter, or about 124 miles. Japan's space agency will launch the first satellite in March next year via a space rocket. The second planned launch, however, will follow shortly thereafter, via a private sector rocket. No exact date has been set. It's also not clear exactly how much each meteor shower will cost, but given the company is spending $20 million for both launches, it likely won't be cheap.
If they are successful, more events will likely be staged around the world. Also, ALE is looking into the possibility of using "expired" satellites to create giant shooting stars.