This Japanese Company Wants to Create Human-Made Meteor Showers

June 6, 2016 | Reece Alvarez

Photo credit: ALE Co., Ltd.

Is it possible that in the next few years human-made meteor showers could be easily achieved? The space entertainment company ALE thinks so.

Humanity has long drawn inspiration from nature in its artistic endeavors, but now a Japanese company by the name of ALE is proposing to take art and entertainment to literal new heights with its Sky Canvas project, an ambitious plan to create real-life meteor showers using satellites and human-made meteors.

“We will launch a satellite loaded with about five hundred to a thousand ‘source particles’ that become ingredients for a shooting star,” the company states on its website. “When the satellite stabilizes in orbit, we will discharge the particles using a specially designed device on board. The particles will travel about one-third of the way around the Earth and enter the atmosphere. It will then begin plasma emission and become a shooting star.”

The company claims to have already tested its array of multicolored source particles in laboratory conditions and believes they are bright enough to be seen even from light polluted cities.

“Our shooting star travels slower and longer across the sky than a natural shooting star,” according to ALE’s website. “This makes it possible for more people to enjoy the spectacle for a longer period of time.”

Colors possible for ALE's artificial meteors

ALE claims that by loading its satellites with “source particles” comprised of various metals it can present a multi-colored falling star display. Image Credit: Screenshot from ALE’s website.​

The astrological fireworks display could potentially be showcased for entire cities at a time.

The company claims the artificial shooting stars will burn across the sky at an altitude between 37 and nearly 50 miles in the atmosphere — entertaining some 30,000,000 million all at once if the display was put on above the city of Tokyo, the company cites as an example.

According to ALE, the company could have a satellites in orbit producing shooting star shows as soon as 2018. Media reports have circulated suggesting that ALE is working towards putting on a stellar display at the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo, but the company has refuted that claim.

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“While we do intend on providing our shooting stars, once complete, to large-scale events, and we also have mentioned the Olympic Games as an event that we would love to work with...this is not a claim that we at ALE have stated or published (although, frankly that would be awesome!),” according to media statement by the company.

The company dropped strong hints in its recent statement that it would like to be the star of the entertainment for the 2020 games, but the price tag for such a show could be tremendous. The website Core77 reports the price tag for single “source particle” is estimated at $8,100 — meaning a fully loaded artificial meteor shower could cost approximately $8.1 million, not including the cost of the satellite, launch and other logistics.

An artist's portrayal of a potential advanced star show ALE could display once multiple satellites are able to be synchronized to create meteor shower designs. Image credit: Screenshot, ALE Co., Ltd. Image has been cropped.

That’s one expensive light show! But the company has big ambitions for the future of its yet-to-be-proven product, ranging from drawing pictures and displaying words with their technology to using it to better understand how to manage space debris. The company even suggests closer study of meteors could help humans to understand the possible otherworldly origins of life on earth — a theory known as panspermia.

“This theory could be evaluated further if we can fully determine the compositions of meteors,” the company states.

Whatever potential future applications the Sky Canvas project may have, for now it remains an unproven dream similar to that of Virgin Galactic, another ambitious, but yet to be successful commercial space venture.

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