Startup looks to paint the sky with artificial meteor showers

ALE, a Japanese start-up, aims to create artificial meteor showers. From their very own satellite, the engineers at ALE would launch pellets into the upper atmosphere, creating one giant light show.

Via National Geographic:

Now, if a Japanese start-up called ALE has its way, a satellite capable of generating artificial meteor showers will be in orbit sometime in the next two years. From 314 miles (500 kilometers) above Earth’s surface, the orbiter will shoot metal spheres the size of blueberries into the upper atmosphere.

As these particles move across the sky at roughly 17,400 miles (28,000 kilometers) an hour, the spheres will burn into brilliant crisps—painting the night with colorful streaks on demand.

ALE’s particles are larger than most found in natural meteor showers, ensuring a longer burn and a bigger, brighter fireball, according to company spokesperson Rie Yamamoto. What’s more, ALE’s meteors would move across the sky slower than the natural variety, further lengthening their burn time.

And depending on the metals used to make the spheres, the company could create meteors of many different colors, using the chemistry of terrestrial fireworks to conjure up a rainbow of high-altitude flames.

Want a scarlet meteor, like the ominous red comet in Game of Thrones? Shoot a pellet made of strontium. Do you desire a sea-foam green streak across the sky? Make your meteoroid out of copper.

There’s no denying the entertainment value of ALE’s “Sky Canvas” plan, which came to company CEO Lena Okajima after watching the Leonid meteor shower 15 years ago. Some news outlets have even suggested a link between ALE and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics’ opening ceremony, despite the company’s insistence that it isn’t currently involved.