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World’s first artificial meteor shower to light sky over Japan in 2020

A Japanese company which claims it can produce shooting stars on demand has said it will create the world’s first artificial meteor shower in 2020.

Tokyo-based start-up ALE said it is in the final stages of building two micro-satellites – each programmed to carry and release 400 tiny pellets anywhere, anytime and in any colour.

Each of these pellets will burn as they enter the atmosphere, creating a glow bright enough to be seen from Earth.

The first satellite is expected to hitch a ride into space on a rocket being launched by Japan’s space agency by March next year, and the second in mid-2019 on a private-sector rocket.

Two satellites will launch the shooting stars. Pic: ALE
Two satellites will launch the shooting stars in space. Pic: ALE

The plan is to have them orbiting the planet by February 2020, with a view to delivering a meteor shower over Hiroshima in spring the same year.

If the skies are clear the display could be visible to millions of people over an area spanning 124 miles, ALE said.

The chemical make-up of the shooting stars remains a secret, but the company claims it should be able to change the colours of each particle to deliver a colourful display.

Each satellite will have enough pellets for 20-30 events, and the shine of each star is expected to last for several seconds before burning up.

Each pellet will burn bright as it enters the Earth's atmosphere. Pic: ALE
Each pellet will burn bright as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere. Pic: ALE

“We are targeting the whole world, as our stockpile of shooting stars will be in space and can be delivered across the world,” ALE chief executive Lena Okajima told a news conference.

Details of how much the firm expects to charge people for their own made-to-order meteor showers have yet to be disclosed.

ALE is said to be spending $20m (£15.4m) on the development, production, launch and operation of the two satellites, which the company says will be able to stay in space for around two years.

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