Get ready for on-demand meteor shower which is an idea expressed by a private space company Astro Live Experience (ALE) which will be showcased at the Tokyo Olympics in spring 2020. Touted as the world’s first artificial meteor shower, the spectacular show will be light up the sky of Setouchi Region while the shower will cover an area of 200-kilometer that covers cities of Matsuyama, Takamatsu, Iwakuni, and Hiroshima. The people at the Olympics 2020 will be able to observe the spectacular display of blue, green, and orange metallic pebbles mimicking meteorites.
According to the report, a 150-pound microsatellite will be deployed at the Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) at the altitude of 350 kilometers above the surface of the Earth. For each on-demand meteor show, 15 to 20 pellets measuring half an inch with green, blue, and orange hues will be shot into the Earth’s atmosphere which will burn for four to five seconds while re-entry. It will resemble the actual length of real meteors thus, giving a display of meteor showers.
Although ALE was developing the technology especially for Tokyo Olympics 2020, the startup has sought to start an on-demand service available for any city in the world. The space company is presently building two 150-pound microsatellites that which be stationed at 350-odd kilometers where the first satellite is scheduled to launch by December 2018. ALE estimated that value of each satellite at $3 million USD which will carry up to 400 artificial meteors made up of metallic pebbles and each satellite will have propellant enough to power it for 27 months after which, it will burn upon re-entry.
ALE has plans to set up three sets of 6-satellite constellations into the Low-Earth Orbit that will deliver artificial meteor show on Earth at 8 p.m., 8.30 p.m., and 9 p.m. during a dark evening anywhere across the globe to anyone who is willing to pay for the services. The startup has claimed that it is striving and working forward to provide the service at an affordable price which will less than Tokyo’s fireworks displays.
As per the estimates, $40,000 will be the cost of an average on-demand meteor shower service, however, there is no specific figure available right now. The target clientele for the service will be amusement parks, larger companies, cities, elite and rich members of the society and whomsoever is willing to pay that much sum for a 20 to 25-second meteor shower.
But there is a flip side to the story too. According to astronomer Patrick Seitzers who is a fellow member of the University of Michigan, this on-demand meteor shower idea is bad when though from the standpoint of an orbital degree since it will contribute to the already crowded low-earth orbit which will increase exponentially in the next decade. Moreover, if the some of the pebbles dropped to the ground never burnt, it will contribute to the ever-increasing space debris as well as, it will be dangerous for other satellites deployed in the same orbit.
ALE has reported that most of the satellites are located above the proposed orbit for the microsatellites and thus, it won’t be dangerous. According to the U.S. Strategic Command’s satellite trajectory catalog, an estimated 40 other satellites are currently travelling below the below the 350-kilometer altitude, however, the startup has already ran a simulation covering an year of catalog in order to find out if it comes within the minimum distance of 200-kilometers but it didn’t happen yet.
SpaceX is planning to deploy around 7,500 satellites in the low-earth orbit below 350 kilometers which could possibly pose a hurdle for ALE’s on-demand meteor shower services, however, it will take years to completely deploy 7,500 satellites for broadband.