A Japanese space research company has developed an unprecedented project with the aim of contributing to the development of science: a shower of artificially created shooting stars. An unusual show that he has proposed to incorporate into the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
human made stars
Sky Canvas, the amazing project of ALE Co. It is the first in the world that would result in shooting stars made by humans, with a pyrotechnic level that would enable them to be visible at a distance of up to 200 kilometers.
As ALE Co. explains, the natural shooting star process can be “artificially recreated” by sending a satellite into orbit with a payload of 500 to 1,000 specialized granules called “source particles.”
Once the particles, made up of chemicals designed to emit multi-colored flames, are discharged from the satellite, they would travel around Earth until they enter the atmosphere and begin to burn.
When a particle re-enters Earth’s atmosphere, it burns up through a process known as plasma emission, creating the appearance of shooting stars seen from the ground.
By discharging a large number of particles at the same time, they claim to be able to create a meteor shower.
The first tests have already been done from their source particles in the lab, using a vacuum chamber and hot gases to simulate the conditions the pellets would encounter upon re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. In these tests, the particles burn up with an apparent magnitude of -1, which should ensure that they are clearly visible in the night sky, even on the polluted skyline of a city like Tokyo.
The speed also makes it easier for them to be appreciated. Their shooting star travels farther and more slowly in the sky than a natural shooting star, they explain.
Entertainment and scientific development
Studying the path of artificial shooting stars; angles of incidence, speed and materials, they hope to better understand the mechanics of shooting stars and naturally occurring meteorites.
Data collected through this project will be useful in predicting the path of satellites as they re-enter Earth’s atmosphere, gaining insight into these less explored parts of the atmosphere, and potential applications in the safe disposal of space debris. Thus they hope to contribute to scientific understanding in this field.
The company plans to launch its first star-laden prototype in the coming months and hopes that in 2018 it will be possible to prove that human-created meteorites are really effective and a reality.
Several companies have already joined the project as partners and sponsors to be part of this challenge of launching artificial shooting stars and uniting people from all over the world to witness the spectacle; probably in Tokyo 2020.
Sources: Science Alert / ALE Co., Ltd.
The balloons with which we will do space tourism
José Mariano López-Urdiales, an aeronautical engineer with experience at Boeing Phantom and ESA, is the founder of Zero2Infinity. A company that seeks to build a brilliant future, in which access to space is frequent, economically viable, safe and accessible to everyone.
López-Urdiales had already published, in 2009, several articles in which he spoke of the possibilities offered by stratospheric balloons as an alternative route to conventional methods to access space. He is convinced that space tourism is one of the fields that will develop the most in the coming years. And he believes that one of the keys is not trying to impose our technology on nature, but trying to understand it to achieve our goals.
The commercial applications that these balloons can have are very wide: testing technology in space, marketing actions, scientific or educational missions, launching small satellites. Michael López-Alegría, a Spanish astronaut and advisor to Zero2Infinity, agrees with López-Urdiales that the use of balloons to reach space is a brilliant solution.