First Ever Man-made Meteor Shower: Does Weather Affect Visibility?

First Ever Man-made Meteor Shower: Does Weather Affect Visibility?
Star trails while watching Perseid meteor shower Ralph Arvesen CC BY 2.0
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The 2020 Olympics in Tokyo could feature something unprecedented – a man-made meteor shower.


ALE, a startup company in Japan, has created a satellite capable of producing an artificial meteor shower anywhere and anytime.

However, the price of the dazzling presentation will cost as much as $8,100 per meteor. The cost would accordingly be set for the desired number of meteors one would like to have, as reported by AccuWeather.

Scientists have said that creating man-made meteor showers will help enhance our understanding of the Earth’s atmosphere. “I’m thinking of streams of meteors that are rare in nature,” CEO of ALE, Lena Okajima, told AFP. “It is artificial but I want to make really beautiful ones that can impress viewers.”

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The satellite, which was developed in collaboration with scientists and engineers from Japanese universities, will circle around the Earth and throw out dozens of balls, each measuring an inch in diameter, that will cause the spectacle.

The balls will be fired at a speed of seven to eight kilometers per second – up to five miles per second – and will illuminate the skies from the friction they cause with the Earth’s atmosphere. The chemical formula of the balls has not been released.

As reported by Yahoo News, the glow of these balls will last for several seconds. They will ultimately completely burn up, but will do so long before they drop low enough and pose significant risk.

“People may eventually become tired of seeing shooting stars if they come alone. But they could be coupled with events on the ground,” Okajima said. “Making the sky a screen is this project’s biggest attraction as entertainment. It’s a space display.”

While the chemical composition is not known, the colors emitted by meteors will be dependent on the materials used. “The color is basically determined by the chemical makeup of debris,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist David Samuhel said. “For example, meteors made of magnesium emit a bluish-white light.”

However, what will not be in the company’s control is the weather at the time of the shower.

“The weather plays an important role,” Samuhel said. “The meteors [burn up] well above the weather-producing layer of the atmosphere, so any clouds in the lower atmosphere will prevent the meteors from being visible.”

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