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A Japanese startup is developing artificial, on-demand meteor showers

Japanese company Astro Live Experiences is developing technology to create on-demand artificial meteor showers in the sky for entertainment purposes.

When we see a shooting star, what we’re seeing is a meteoroid – ranging in size from a tiny dust particle to a one-metre-wide object – entering the Earth’s atmosphere and burning up.

Astro Live Experiences wants to reproduce this natural spectacle and offer it commercially.

To pull it off, they want to load a micro-satellite with specially designed pellets with a diameter of now more than a couple of centimetres. Once the satellite has launched into space and settled into a stable orbit around the planet, it will release this artificial space debris to emulate the natural phenomenon of a meteor shower.

“We want to use the sky as canvas and create very beautiful things,” Dr Lena Okajima, founder and CEO of Astro Live Experiences, told the BBC.

A full show can last for several minutes and the company claims their particles burn so bright they will be seen in an area up to 200km in diameter. What sounds even more insane is that they’re designing these pellets to produce multiple colours.

“We aim to deliver our shooting stars on demand, anywhere in the world,” the company advertises on its official site.

“Using space as our stage, we will constantly strive to bring to life new levels of entertainment.”

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. 11月7日は立冬でしたね 1年の中で1番星がきれいに見える季節がやってきます . Winter is coming! This is the best season that we can see beautiful stars. . #ALE #株式会社ALE #人工流れ星 #人工衛星 #立冬 #skycanvas #artifitialmeteorshower #artificialshootingstar #satellite #space #aerospace #meteorshower #star #shootingstar #winter #winteriscoming

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Some scientists have their doubts about the project. Hugh Lewis, an expert in space debris and space junk from the University of Southampton, says throwing stuff into orbit might not be such a great idea.

“Given the fact that we’re trying to encourage good behaviour in the space environment and so on, just to throw things up there because they look pretty is a bit problematic,” he said to BBC.

The pellets developed by Astro Live Experiences may not pose much of a threat given any leftover debris will likely burn up in Earth’s atmosphere, but Lewis does have concerns that in the near future when more satellites and other craft start occupying lower orbit, these artificial meteors could spell trouble.

Adrien Lemal, an aerothermodynamics engineer at Astro Live Experiences, is confident there will be no harmful “side-effects” from their artificial light show, as the chances of their pellets failing to burn are very low.

“We are confident that we don’t create pollution, we don’t create debris,” he says.

After years of development, the company, at last, launched its first test in orbit earlier this year. An Epsilon rocket from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) carried seven experimental satellites into the heavens on January 17, among them the little ALE-1 built by Astro Live Experiences.

The company reports the microsatellite test was successful, which opens the door for a second test where they will try out their first artificial meteor shower. The second satellite is estimated to be ready in the coming months with a launch currently scheduled for the middle of 2019.

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. ☆人工流れ星のしくみ☆ ①流れ星の素材となる粒を搭載した人工衛星を宇宙空間に向けて発射🚀 . ☆How to make shooting star☆ ①Launch a satellite which has particles become shooting stars . #ALE #株式会社ALE #人工流れ星 #人工衛星 #skycanvas #artificialshootingstar #satellite #space #aerospace #star #shootingstar #howtomakeshootingstar #1

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. ☆人工流れ星のしくみ☆ ②人工衛星を周回軌道に乗せて飛行を安定させる . ☆How to make shooting star☆ ②Keep our satelite in orbit around the earth . #ALE #株式会社ALE #人工流れ星 #人工衛星 #skycanvas #artificialshootingstar #satellite #space #aerospace #star #shootingstar #howtomakeshootingstar #2

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. ☆人工流れ星のしくみ☆ ③人工衛星に搭載した装置から流れ星の素材となる粒を放出 . ☆How to make shooting star☆ ③Release the shooting star particles from the micro satellite . #ALE #株式会社ALE #人工流れ星 #人工衛星 #skycanvas #artificialshootingstar #satellite #space #aerospace #star #shootingstar #howtomakeshootingstar #3

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. ☆人工流れ星のしくみ☆ ④粒は地球を約6分の1周してから大気圏に突入し、燃焼する 人工流れ星のできあがり! . ☆How to make shooting star☆ ④The particle will travel apporoximately one sixth of the way around the Earth before burning like a shooting star upon atmospheric reentry . #ALE #株式会社ALE #人工流れ星 #人工衛星 #skycanvas #artificialshootingstar #satellite #space #aerospace #star #shootingstar #howtomakeshootingstar #4

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. ☆人工流れ星のしくみ☆ ⑤ALEの人工流れ星はマイナス1等星で光ります。 北極星よりも明るくて肉眼でもしっかり見ることができます。 . ☆How to make shooting star☆ ⑤Artificial shooting star of ALE will shine -1.0 magnitude You can see with the naked eyes . #ALE #株式会社ALE #人工流れ星 #人工衛星 #skycanvas #artificialshootingstar #satellite #space #aerospace #star #shootingstar #howtomakeshootingstar #5

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About the author

Filmmaker. 3D artist. Procrastination guru. I spend most of my time doing VFX work for my upcoming film Servicios Públicos, a sci-fi dystopia about robots, overpopulated cities and tyrant states. @iampineros

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