On-Demand Meteor Showers Could Soon Be For Sale in Japan

By Carl Engelking | July 7, 2015 2:01 pm

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Forget fireworks: on-demand shooting stars are the future of sky-high pyrotechnics.

It sounds far-fetched, but a Japanese start-up company, called ALE, believes it has the technological muscle to manufacture artificial “meteor showers” that light up the night sky. ALE plans to pull off this feat by sending a tiny satellite into orbit that would eject a stream of 1-inch balls that glow as they burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.

Cosmic Firecrackers

Shooting stars, of course, aren’t stars at all; they’re tiny bits of space dust and debris — called meteoroids — that visibly burn brilliantly as they enter Earth’s atmosphere, becoming meteors. Meteors typically disintegrate before they hit Earth, but if they make landfall, they are then termed meteorites.

Unfortunately, natural meteor showers aren’t a common spectacle, and they’re even less common if you life in major cities bathed in light pollution. Japanese astronomer Lena Okajima founded ALE, in partnership with scientists and engineers, to make the cosmic spectacle conform to modern society’s “on-demand” expectations.

Design Phase

ALE is still seeking funds from investors to develop their conceptual enterprise, so it’s not clear when the service will actually start lighting up the skies. In the meantime, the company’s researchers are currently designing a tiny, 20-inch satellite, or CubeSat, that would orbit the Earth about 250 to 310 miles in the sky with a payload of artificial meteoroids. The satellite would then eject the balls into the atmosphere and let gravity and friction do the rest of the work.

What, exactly, these tiny balls are made of is a closely held secret, but Okajima told AFP that the chemical formula could be tweaked to customize the color of each “shooting star.” Furthermore, tests performed on the balls indicate that they would be visible even in Tokyo, a metropolis drowning in artificial light. And if clouds happen to spoil your shooting star party, the show can be called off up to 100 minutes before launch.

Before you plan your first meteor shower, you’ll want to take a hard look at your budget: Each shooting star will cost around $8,100.

In a world where we choose which movie we want to watch, the song we want to hear, the news that pours through our feeds and even the weather we experience on our wedding day, it seems fitting that shooting stars, which have amazed cultures since ancient times, may soon be personalized as well.

 

Photo credit: fabiodevilla/Shutterstock

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, Technology, top posts
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  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

    An orbital launch meteoroid will come in 5 – 7 miles/second, maximum. The natural phenomenon is about 10 – 40 miles/second. Best efforts artificial would have no more than 100(7/10)^2 = 49% of the energy of worst natural. Densified graphite balls would be black body emitters. Boron carbide is a nice green tail. Near net reaction bonded tantalum carbide for high density and melting point.

    Distance to the horizon (miles) at height (feet) is about (1.22)[sqrt(h)] for small h. It would need very good orbital targeting indeed. Governments will not like that kind of orbital targeting technology (nor the Shire of Esperance).

    • GuestWhom

      Most meteor showers involve pea sized objects while this venture will use objects one inch in diameter.

      • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

        Blackbody radiator emitted energy/area-second varies as the fourth power of the absolute temperature (Stefan-Boltzmann law). You cannot radiate what you do not have. Re-entering a massive body is more energy contained as the cube of the radius at constant density. The CEP aiming problem remains, perhaps intensified by uneven erosion of the larger body.

        Compare aiming a smoothbore musket round with a rifled bullet of the same caliber and mass. Avoid being hit by a musket round by having it aimed right at you. Shotguns launch a cloud. High energy smoothbore munitions are finned darts.

  • Caseas

    < ?????? +dilbert +*********…..

    44

  • Maia

    “Unfortunately, natural meteor showers aren’t a common spectacle, and
    they’re even less common if you life in major cities bathed in light
    pollution. Japanese astronomer Lena Okajima founded ALE, in partnership
    with scientists and engineers, to make the cosmic spectacle conform to
    modern society’s “on-demand” expectations.”

    (Rolling eyes) Two-year olds believe firmly in on-demand everything….. but hopefully they grow up. Cosmic spectacles are NOT cosmic spectacles if they are “on demand”. As for light pollution, shouldn’t we be doing something about that rather than coming up with more cheap gimmicks to bolster our Promethean complex?

    • J_R_K

      yeah… it it isn’t real, there is no sense of wonder in it.

      • mary.peters13

        ====

        • J_R_K

          Moderators, I have received two email notifications from this same advertising parasite.

    • anna.dahl2
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