Last year, Japanese company Astro Live Experience (ALE) announced they wanted to create the first artificial meteor shower. Now, it is being reported that they plan to do it in 2019. This has been described by the company as the “Shooting Star Challenge”, and their hope is to have fake meteors cross the sky over the Setouchi (Seto Inland Sea) region of the Hiroshima Prefecture.
ALE plans to put a trial microsatellite in orbit next year that's about 60 centimeters (2 feet) in size and capable of storing and delivering between 300 and 400 pellets. The satellite will be in a special polar orbit, called a sun-synchronous orbit, which allows the satellite to pass over a specific location at the same time every day.
The satellite will be in low-Earth orbit (500 kilometers/310 miles of altitude) and will shoot the pellets as it passes over Australia. The fake meteor will take about 15 minutes to fall to a height of 60 kilometers (37 miles) and begin to burn.
Each pellet will burn for about five to ten seconds and will be visible for up to 200 kilometers (125 miles). Each shooting star will be almost as bright as Sirius, with the team exploring the possibility of having multiple colors. The location has been picked for its high rate of clear skies, however the popularity and stunning location also helped to make this the winning choice for the first test.
“These days people are usually looking down at their smartphones. I want to make people look upwards again,” said Lena Okajima, astronomer and CEO of ALE, as reported by Japan Today.
The company is being supported by researchers at Tohoku University and Tokyo Metropolitan University, which are responsible for the satellite design and manufacturing and the orbital simulation. Researchers from the Kanagawa Institute and the Nihon University will also look into material analysis for the mission.
The company has partnered up with supermarket giant Family Mart and Japan Airlines. Rumors suggest that an artificial meteor shower could be part of the opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games.
[H/T: Japan Today]