Watching a meteor shower is a pretty spectacular, humiliating experience that beautifully illustrates how small we are in the vastness of the universe. But catching a good meteor shower is hard. They come only a few times a year and often to strange hours in the early morning.
What if you could get a meteor shower directly above you, on demand, whenever you want? This is the sound of the Japanese company Astro Live Experiences, which brings satellites into orbit to create artificial meteor showers.
ALE hopes to market its technology to cities, corporations or wealthy individuals custom meteor shower for a cost that ALE claims will be less than that of a community-sponsored fireworks show. Their plan is to launch a pair of small satellites, each equipped with a few hundred small metal balls. The next day, the satellite spits out a few dozen to burn in the atmosphere.
The first of these satellites will launch in December, with services starting in 2019. Eventually, the company plans to have a constellation of over a dozen such satellites orbiting the globe and capable of launching a custom meteor shower somewhere the world, anytime.
While this may seem like harmless entertainment to those who can afford it, some experts warn that these artificial meteor showers could damage other satellites in orbit. Right now, the company hopes to mitigate this risk by keeping its satellites in a much lower orbit than most other satellites and ensuring there are no other satellites in range.
But in the next few years, this space area is likely. SpaceX and other companies are likely to build large satellite constellations to enable high-speed Internet access around the world. The more satellites in that region orbit, the greater the likelihood that one of ALE's meteor shower will accidentally hit you.
ALE has already received approval from the Japanese Space Agency and is consulting NASA and the European Space Agency. This means that at least some of these agencies believe that ALE does not pose a significant risk to other satellites, but it may not pose the risk of a nice display.
Source: Buzzfeed News