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Star-ALE, a Japanese company, wants to create an artificial meteor shower during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Needless to say that it will be quite a spectacle that will be visible to 30 million people in Tokyo.
The project has been aptly named Sky Canvas and involves launching a spacecraft in low Earth orbit that will release spherical pallets. Each pallet costs $8,000 and will produce a bright flash – similar to natural meteorites – as it burns up while re-entering Earth’s atmosphere. The spacecraft will carry about 500 to 1000 of these. Depending on the type of element used to create a pallet, the color of the meteorites can be changed. For instance, Copper will give green color to the meteorite while lithium will result in pink. The company hopes to launch a demonstration spacecraft as early as next year.
“For the Tokyo Olympics, we “want” provide the shooting stars. However, at this point in time, we don’t know whether we will and we certainly have not proposed to do so” — a spokesperson of Star-ALE said.
When the spacecraft releases the pallets using a specifically designed device, they will travel about one-third of the way around the Earth. Once they enter the atmosphere, they will burn up at an altitude of 60 to 80 kilometers (35 to 50 miles) and will become shooting stars, shining with a magnitude (-1) greater than the brightest star in the sky. They will be visible across an area spanning 200 kilometers (125 miles) on the ground and 400 times wider than a firework exploding at an altitude of 500 meters (1,640 feet).
The entire project will have a cost of more than $8 million that includes cost of 1,000 pellets and developing/launching the spacecraft.
It’s going to be quite a spectacle.