Artificial on-demand meteor showers may dazzle future skies

The future may bring us on-demand meteor showers, at least if a Tokyo-based startup has its way. ALE is setting the foundation for the world's first on-demand shooting stars, something that'll involve a pair of micro-satellites containing small balls. These balls will emit a bright glow as they reach the planet's atmosphere, providing a show for those on land.

Each micro-satellite is planned for its own mission, one set to happen in March 2019 and the second later that same year. The first launch will be facilitated by Japan's space agency, but the second is anticipated to launch on a private rocket. Assuming everything goes according to plan, an artificial meteor shower is scheduled to happen over Hiroshima in early 2020.

It seems the micro-satellites will take ALE's glowing balls stockpile into space, where they'll then be ready to put on shows for Earth. The startup isn't revealing much about the balls within the micro-satellites — they'll have a proprietary, secret formula that'll prompt them to glow brightly as they plunge through Earth's atmosphere.

A total of 800 balls are carried by the two satellites; the number of shows they can put on depends on how many "shooting stars" each event has. The company estimates its two micro-satellites could put on between 20 and 30 shows, and that they can be spread out through approximately 24 months.

It's unclear what color the balls will glow, though they can be tailored to different colors. Whether ALE has other artificial meteor shower shows planned for after the Hiroshima debut wasn't stated. The sticking point, no doubt, will be the cost associated with developing the product and launching the satellites.