The Sky Canvas project aims to fill the Japanese sky with meteors to inaugurate the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, going one step beyond the usual fireworks and torches.
The project is set to launch an artificial satellite into orbit, which contains thousands of “source particles” that are able to be witnessed as a meteorite shower for us humans.
As the satellite reaches its destination, the particles will be shot around the earth, releasing plasma and thus becoming shooting stars.
Creating shooting stars
According to developers, a shooting star is created when a particle, even if it is really small, enters the earth’s atmosphere. As it falls due to gravity, it collides with the gases that compose the atmosphere, which leads to a process known as plasma emission where the particle catches fire and burns brightly.
Although the project is set to be premiered in Tokyo, Star-ALE, the company behind its development, states that they are able to create shooting stars anywhere within the atmosphere. The stars burn 80 kilometers above sea level, and they are able to be witnessed on a large area inherent to the earth’s surface; the visibility range is expected to be of at least a 200 kilometer wide circle, surpassing the visibility of fireworks at least four hundred times.
Star-ALE is looking towards bringing aerospace entertainment to the next level, as they will also gather scientific data with the launch of their satellites. In the future, the company aims to create drawings and display words in space by using the same method for creating the aforementioned meteor shower. With multiple satellites, they say, they are able to freely create shooting stars in several locations and with different patterns.
Each of the particles launched by the satellites cost around $8,100 to produce. Star-ALE’s proposal is backed by Japan’s administration, as astronomy efforts are widely supported by the government. They provided funds to develop research and manufacturing enormous and costly scientific equipment. Star-ALE’s founder Dr. Lena Okajima explained her approach towards space business, as she focused on guaranteeing financial stability for the project while keeping up scientific interest.
“This type of project is new in the sense in that it mixes astronomy and the entertainment business. These shooting stars that are born through science function as a high-profit entertainment business, and the resulting funds will serve to further advance fundamental scientific research” said Star-ALE’s founder Dr. Lena Okajima.
Star-ALE also aims to develop the disposal of waste in space through atmospheric combustion. The scientific knowledge that would be gathered by creating the meteor showers will allow the team to have a better understanding on the behavior of particles as they enter and burn on the earth’s atmosphere.
Satellites and even the International Space Station could be eventually burned in the atmosphere after they have accomplished their objectives, thus providing a solution for a problem that astronauts may face in the future as we face it now in earth: pollution. It is a matter of time until artificial shooting stars and shows become an habitual sight for us in earth.