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Meteor showers and the "falling stars" they bring with them may be beautiful, but the most impressive representations take place only about 10 times a year. Now a Japanese start-up, calling itself the world's first "space entertainment" company, says it wants to turn falling stars from an interim thing into something you can order anytime.
The ALE Co. Ltd. based in Tokyo wants to do this with Earth orbiting satellites that can release metal pellets to create spectacular beams of light as they fall through the atmosphere and burn harmlessly.
Ordering your own meteor shower sounds like the ultimate treat for rich people and companies that need a spectacular new marketing tool, but the idea of on – demand sky shows – by the astronomer Lena Okajima at the University of Tokyo in 2001 for devised a project she called "Sky Canvas" – could do more than yield to the whims of the rich.
"We are all people, maybe similar to Elon Musk, who grew up with science fiction and the promise of things we would have in the future," said Josh Rodenbaugh, who works on ALE's satellite operations. "For us, much of what we want to do is inspire people to come to STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] fields and think about how we do it."
There could also be a scientific component to the sky shows.
"One of the things we do not know well is the upper atmosphere," Dr. John Crassidis, a University of Buffalo, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering, who is not involved in the project. "If you could finally put sensors on each of these things, we could get an idea of the density at certain levels, and that would be a good science."
Knowing how objects go up in flames The atmosphere could also help researchers find out the composition and origin of real meteors, Dr. William Schoenberg, Professor of Civil Engineering, Architecture and Environmental Engineering at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, who is also not involved with ALE. 19659007] "When you look at the brightness change, you can find out the original characteristics of what came in," Schönberg said. "Maybe then we can find out what it is and where it comes from."
In December, ALE plans to launch a single pellet-carrying satellite into orbit at a height of approximately 220 miles. (For the context, the International Space Station orbits at a height of approximately 250 miles.) Customers could order a celestial exhibit at a specific time and place. When the call comes in, the company sends a signal to the satellite to release the bullets at exactly the point of their orbit so that the pieces of metal fall and burn down exactly where they are needed.
Rodenbaugh These calculations show that the counterfeit shooting stars are visible to anyone within a radius of 100 kilometers of their fall through the atmosphere. "It covers New York and New Jersey," he added. "Even if the price for a single shooting star is quite high, many people will enjoy it."
If everything goes according to plan, ALE will be broadcasting a second satellite in the summer of 2019, with the first demonstration of private sky shows taking place in 2020 at a public event in Hiroshima. Ultimately, the company hopes to launch enough satellites that people around the world can order an artificial meteor shower.
ALE has yet to set a price for the displays. "When we put the service into service," he said, "we'll have a better idea of what the price will look like."
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