Astronomy lovers who gaze into the sky in the hope of seeing a falling star will soon be able to simply order it.
A group of Japanese scientists developed a “secret formula for a chemical mixture that is planned to be packaged” into tiny (about an inch in diameter) balls, and “released” from a satellite, creating the effect of a stream of meteors.
This startup, called “El”, attracted researchers from several universities to create artificial meteor showers. “Star rain” will cost about $ 8, 100. It will be bright enough to be visible even in areas with smog, such as Tokyo, under the condition of fair weather.
Natural meteor showers arise when dust and debris from space are heated by friction as they pass through the atmosphere. Often, meteors burn completely, not reaching the ground. Fallen to Earth are known to us as meteorites.
“An artificial meteorite, launched by a microsatellite, measuring about 20 inches (50 centimeters), would have burned completely after flying at a speed of 5 miles (about 8 kilometers) per second,” said Miwa Suzuki in an AFP report.
The cubic satellite, which will produce artificial shooting stars, is being developed by “El” in collaboration with attracted researchers. The satellite will orbit the Earth from north to south at an altitude of 250 to 310 miles (400 km to 500 km) for several months before falling back to earth and burning. The formula of “star balls” is kept secret, but the company said it is considering various chemical compounds to create a strip of different colors.
“We were attracted to the idea of making the sky screen and using it for entertainment,” said Lena Okazima, the company's founder and CEO. In case of bad weather, the fall of the stars can be rescheduled for up to 100 minutes from the planned one.
Artificial “star rains” will not only be very beautiful: they can be useful to scientists. Aerospace engineer at Tokyo Metropolitan University of Hironori Sahara, said that by analyzing the light from a meteor, scientists can tell about its temperature, density and movement in the atmosphere. Natural meteor showers are unpredictable, but now scientists know exactly where to study them.
This is especially valuable because the part of the sky through which meteor streams will pass is too “low” for spacecraft and high for meteorological balloons. While “El” is negotiating with investors and developing the technology further, scientists and skywatchers can think about how to use the order of meteor showers.