A rocket ferrying a satellite to space is on a mission to deliver the world’s 1st artificial meteor shower blasted into space on Friday, Japanese scientists said.
A start-up based in Tokyo developed the micro-satellite for the celestial show over Hiroshima early next year as the initial experiment for what it calls a “shooting stars on demand” service.
The satellite is to release little balls that glow brightly as they hurtle through the atmosphere, simulating a meteor shower.
It hitched ride on the small size Epsilon Four rocket that was launched from the Uchinoura space centre by the Japan aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on Friday morning.
The rocket carried a total of seven ultra-small satellites which will demonstrate various “innovative” technologies, JAXA spokesman Nobuyoshi Fujimoto told AFP.
In early afternoon JAXA confirmed all seven satellites had successfully been launched into orbit.
I was too moved for words, Lena Okajima, the president of the company behind the artificial meteor showers, told the Jiji Press.
The company ale Co Ltd plans to deliver its 1st out-of-this-world show over Hiroshima in the spring of 2020.
The satellite launched Friday carries four hundred tiny balls whose chemical formula is a closely-guarded secret.
That should be enough for 20-30 events, as one shower will involve up to twenty stars, according to the company.
ALE’s satellite, released five hundred kilometres (310 miles) above the earth, will gradually descend to four hundred kilometres over the coming year as it orbits the earth.
Worldwide meteor shower shows
The company plans to launch a 2nd satellite on a private sector rocket in mid-2019.
ALE says it’s targeting “the whole world” with its products and plans to build a stockpile of shooting stars in space that can be delivered across the globe.
When its 2 satellites are in orbit, they’ll be used separately or in tandem, and will be programmed to eject the balls at the proper location, speed and direction to put on a show for viewers on Ground.
Tinkering with the ingredients in the balls should mean that it’s possible to change the colours they glow, offering the possibility of a multi-coloured flotilla of shooting stars.
Each star is expected to shine for several seconds before being fully burned up — well before they fall low enough to pose any danger to anything on Earth.
They glow brightly enough to be seen even over the light polluted metropolis of Tokyo, ALE says.
If all goes well, and the skies are clear, the 2020 event might be visible to millions of people, it says.
Okajima has said her company chose Hiroshima for its 1st show due to its good weather, landscape and cultural assets.
The Western Japan City rose from the ashes after 1945 United State atomic bombing and faces the Seto Inland Sea where the floating gate of Itsukushima Shrine is.
ALE is working in collaboration with scientists and engineers at Japanese universities as well as local government officials and company sponsors.
It has not disclosed the worth for a synthetic meteor stream.