Part of the excitement of seeing a meteor is the dumb luck involved in being in the right place at the right time.
Outside of known meteor showers, these celestial wonders don't exactly appear when you expect them to. But a Japanese company is hoping to change that, taking luck out of the equation and making meteors appear right on time, exactly where expected.
The company, called ALE, is raising funds to launch a small satellite filled with pellets that would orbit at about 250 to 300 miles above Earth. The satellite would release pellets on cue, which -- like natural meteoroids -- would burn up as they fall.
Companies or individuals would be able to order a meteor or even a whole meteor shower, and have it appear on schedule.
"I'm thinking of streams of meteors that are rare in nature," Lena Okajima, the company's founder and CEO, told AFP. "It is artificial but I want to make really beautiful ones that can impress viewers."
Although she wouldn't reveal what the pellets are made of, Okajima said the company may be able to offer them in different colors.
Okajima, who holds a doctorate degree in astronomy from the University of Tokyo, told AFP that the cost to develop and send the CubeSat into orbit would be about $8.2 million, and that the cost of a single artificial meteor would be about $8,200, based on the current exchange rate.
The artificial meteors could be used for science as well as a good show, she said. Since scientists would know exactly when and where the fake meteors would fall, they could use telescopes and other equipment to monitor each one.
Okajima is hoping the blend of entertainment and science will help draw investors.
“We believe there are people who would be ready to put up money for supporting ‘a world first’ event that is also meaningful scientifically,” Okajima told AFP.
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