SCIENCE

Japan Olympics Could Feature Man Made Meteor Shower

  • Mary Nichols , Design & Trend Contributor
  • May, 23, 2016, 08:36 AM
Tags : science, news
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Artificial Meteor Shower
(Photo : Getty Image/Matthias Balk) A Japanese company is aiming to generate an artificial meteor shower via satellite for the opening ceremony of the 2020 Summer Olympics.

A Japanese company is aiming to generate an artificial meteor shower via satellite for the opening ceremony of the 2020 Summer Olympics, which will be held in Tokyo.

Star-ALE, the company responsible for the proposed Sky Canvas meteor shower, hopes the artificial shooting star project will boost support for similar projects in future, writes Christian Science Monitor.

"This type of project is new in the sense in that it mixes astronomy and the entertainment business," Star-ALE founder and chief executive officer Lena Okajima said in her corporate profile. "These shooting stars that are born through science function as a high-profit entertainment business, and the resulting funds will serve to further advance fundamental scientific research."

As objects enter Earth's atmosphere they heat up and burn, causing the shooting stars that are visible from Earth. And while Earth is often subject to meteor showers, including the annual Perseids shower, there has not yet been an attempt to create an artificial shooting star shower.

Star-ALE's Sky Canvas will mimic the natural occurrence of a shooting star shower. It is designed around a satellite that will be filled with hundreds of "source particles" that will "become ingredients for a shooting star," according to Star-ALE. The particles would start to burn up at a height of 40 to 50 miles after being launched from the spacecraft.

If given the go ahead, the particles from the Sky Canvas would be visible on a clear night sky - even from well lit urban areas. Star-ALE has also proposed to cover the particles with materials that react with heat, which will result in a colorful display as the particles burn up in the atmosphere. In addition to the colors, the artificial meteor shower will also burn slower than a normal meteor shower.

The company has estimated that each meteor pellet will cost Japan $8,100, with additional projected costs from the construction and launch of the satellite, according to Phys.org. However, Ms. Okajima says she hopes that show could lead to new opportunities for astronomers and scientists.

"[A]stronomy in Japan is supported by large amounts of government assistance. By pouring large amounts of public funds into the creation of enormous equipments, we can aim to fly further into space, and conduct more accurate experiments and observations," she said.

According to Star-ALE, the capabilities of the microsatellite will be tested beyond a laboratory setting by the end of 2017.

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