Meteors are nature’s firecrackers, however, humans are getting up close as the simulated meteorite venture Sky Canvas endeavors to reproduce beautiful vast showers. Utilizing small-scale satellites that shoot exceptional combination metal rollers, the showers can be made to arrange over any spot on Earth for both an astounding fireball show and to enable better to see how to discard space debris.
A Japanese company called ALE (based on the phrase Astro Live Experiences) announced earlier this month that it’s on track to create the very first artificial meteor shower in 2019. They’ve also announced that the display will be visible over a 125-mile swath of the Setouchi region of Japan, which includes the city of Hiroshima, among others.
That date is based on the projected launch in late 2018 or early 2019 of the satellites that will produce the meteor showers. ALE is hoping to be ready for a full-out display at the opening ceremony for the 2020 Olympics, which are being held in Tokyo. They had originally planned to get the first test satellite in orbit at the end of this year.
But once satellites, which are less than two feet across, are in orbit, how do they create the artificial showers? They will be programmed to release hundreds of metal spheres the size of blueberries from more than 300 miles above Earth’s surface. Each individual “meteor” sphere is reported to cost about $8,000.
Like fireworks, different types of metals produce different colors: copper for green, sodium for yellow, potassium for purple and much more. ALE has tested those metal-color pairs in ground-based simulations to hone their palette.
The company’s website touts the idea as “a whole new level of entertainment,” but some scientists have raised concerns it will lead to an excess of frivolous satellite launches that will exacerbate the problem of space debris floating around our planet and threatening the International Space Station.
In the future, the company has its sights on using its on-demand shooting stars as entertainment, potentially for large outdoor events and celebrations. Japan Airlines, which is one of the company’s sponsors, is even planning to hold special flights so that passengers can get an even better look at the light show.