Dec 13, 2018
TOKYO - A Japanese space venture said Thursday it will launch a small satellite next month for delivering the world's first artificial meteor shower over Hiroshima and its vicinity in the spring of 2020.
Tokyo-based ALE Co., which has been developing the shooting star technology as an entertainment tool, is loading the satellite carrying 400 metal pieces which will replicate meteors on the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's rocket slated for launch on Jan. 17, it said.
(Photo taken Nov. 7, 2017 shows representatives of corporate sponsors for ALE's shooting star project, including FamilyMart UNY Holdings President Takashi Sawada, far right.)
The satellite, measuring about 60 centimeters in width and 80 cm in height and weighing some 65 kilograms, is designed to descend about 100 kilometers from its initial orbit to an altitude of 400 km and release up to 20 tiny metal balls at a time.
The 1-cm balls will burn out completely in the atmosphere, according to the company. To release the balls in the correct direction, the satellite is equipped with three position censors, it said.
The planned meteor showers are expected to be seen in a 200-km radius area, and the company has chosen the coastal region of Hiroshima Prefecture along the Seto Inland Sea as the target area for the first show due to the region's typically better weather than many other areas, it said.
"We hope that our shooting stars will lead to further development of basic science and that many people will enjoy them," said ALE CEO Lena Okajima in a statement.
The satellite will stay in space for about two years, according to the company.
ALE is currently developing a second satellite to be completed early next year and launched into space in the summer.
The company has been working in collaboration with researchers at universities in Japan and corporate sponsors, including convenience store chain operator FamilyMart UNY Holdings Co. and Japan Airlines Co.
[Screenshot from ALE's website]
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