Meteor showers on demand will be the fireworks display of the future

20 Jul 2018

Image: SKY2015/Shutterstock

A Japanese start-up aims to light up the night’s sky with artificial meteor showers as soon as the beginning of the next decade.

For the ultra-wealthy of the future, a traditional fireworks display might not be enough to satisfy the demands of someone who wants the moon and the stars.

But it will soon be possible to generate artificial meteor showers in the night’s sky if a start-up does what it sets out to achieve.

According to AFP (via, the Tokyo-based company ALE says it is ready to deliver such a spectacle above the city of Hiroshima by February 2020.

To do so, the company is developing two micro-satellites that will be launched into space. Each micro-satellite will contain 400 tiny balls that will light up upon entering the atmosphere.

While the chemical formula for the balls is not being revealed by the company, the number of balls on each satellite would cater for up to 30 events, with each of the satellites to be capable of staying in orbit for a period of up to two years.

Either used separately or together, the satellites would be programmed to only release the balls when they have reached the right speed and location, with it being possible to change the colour of the lights in the sky by altering the balls’ chemical compounds.

Giant shooting stars

Unlike a shooting star, which comes and goes in the blink of an eye, these balls will stay lit for several seconds before they burn up completely in order to prevent any pollution down here on Earth.

“We are targeting the whole world, as our stockpile of shooting stars will be in space and can be delivered across the world,” said ALE’s chief executive, Lena Okajima.

Looking further into the future, the company said that it is even exploring the possibility of gaining access to defunct satellites in orbit to turn them into giant shooting stars as falling space debris.

ALE’s chief engineer, Ko Kamachi, said: “We are planning to push a used satellite into the atmosphere on a targeted orbit to create a giant artificial shooting star.” Kamachi added that this is still very much in a research phase.

It remains to be seen exactly what such a display will cost, but so far ALE has spent approximately $20m to develop the two satellites.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic