Meteor Showers On Demand
May 21, 2016 8:31 AM   Subscribe

For the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, forget the fireworks for the opening show... How about an on-demand meteor shower instead?

Japanese start-up Star-ALE, headed up by Dr. Hironori Sahara (Professor, Aerospace Engineering, Tokyo Metropolitan University), Dr. Takeo Watanabe (Lecturer, Aerospace Engineering, Teikyo University), and Dr. Shinsuke Abe (Associate Professor, Aerospace Engineering, Nihon University), has promised an astral pyrotechnics show called "Sky Canvas" that will be visible across an area of 200km (125 miles), about 400 times wider than a usual fireworks display.

Star-ALE will launch micro satellites packed with up to 1,000 pellets of various gases and elements, each emitting a different color upon re-entry, creating timed, on-demand meteor showers.

If you can't wait until 2020 for your astral event fix, there are plenty of upcoming meteor showers. The Perseids are slated to put on an unusually spectacular show this summer, with an estimated 150-200 totally natural meteors per hour.
posted by erst (27 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Hmmm, a satellite raining stuff down over Tokyo Olympic Stadium. What could go wrong?
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 8:41 AM on May 21, 2016 [8 favorites]


What could possibly go wrong with this?
posted by rmd1023 at 8:41 AM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Even for the Olympics, this would be what my chef calls "a waste of human effort," not to mention money.

If it works like the concept video, though, it'll be beautiful.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:53 AM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Absolutely disgusting.
posted by dilaudid at 8:54 AM on May 21, 2016


What could possibly go wrong with this?

Did the Tokyo Olympics officials not watch PLANETES?
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:01 AM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Or Akira?
posted by RakDaddy at 9:03 AM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


(Oops, should have clicked Alonzo's link. Mea culpa.)
posted by RakDaddy at 9:04 AM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


What could possibly go wrong with this?

"Ooh! Aah! AAAAAAAUGH!"
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:31 AM on May 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


This is fine.
posted by odinsdream at 10:00 AM on May 21, 2016 [8 favorites]


What could possibly go wrong with this?


Cloud cover for the win!
posted by inflatablekiwi at 10:10 AM on May 21, 2016


So, basically high altitude fireworks. Actually, this might be better than regular fireworks, because the cesium, rubidium, strontium etc will be ignited much higher up, so that you don't have a bunch of heavy metals scattered around a few hundred feet above where everyone is breathing.

I am amused that the Gizmodo link uses natrium for orange, rather than its more common name, sodium.
posted by Existential Dread at 10:19 AM on May 21, 2016


Interesting to that the satellite doesn't immediately crash back into the atmosphere, but serves as space trash for the next 25 years before reentry. THAT seems like a much bigger problem than man made meteorites.
posted by Existential Dread at 10:22 AM on May 21, 2016


Again, fellow human beings to note viewing attractive meteor shower perfectly safe with naked eye. Gathering with friends and family to enjoy marvelous example of celestial glory.

Also perfectly safe to be visiting botanical gardens, camping in open fields and resting under elegant and gentle floral displays. Enjoy with friends and family and fellow humans!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:22 AM on May 21, 2016 [9 favorites]


> I am amused that the Gizmodo link uses natrium for orange, rather than its more common name, sodium.

Probably a German speaker in there...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:36 AM on May 21, 2016


reminds me of something Hotblack Desiato would do.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:57 AM on May 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


SHOOTS FLAMING BALLS AND REPORTS
posted by The otter lady at 11:42 AM on May 21, 2016 [6 favorites]


Seems like it would violate a number of international agreements covering outerspace. More trash in low earth orbit, no thanks.
posted by humanfont at 12:14 PM on May 21, 2016


self-driving cars, on-demand meteors...can we please just get some fucking clean water and mosquito nets?
posted by j_curiouser at 12:24 PM on May 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


self-driving cars, on-demand meteors...can we please just get some fucking clean water and mosquito nets?
The future is arriving as promised, though it's not exactly being distributed evenly.
posted by erst at 1:08 PM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think it sounds neat. But I also can't help the voice in my head repeating the now cliched "Welcome to the future. The stupid, stupid future."
posted by [insert clever name here] at 1:09 PM on May 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


At a guesstimated cost of something like $M100, plus development costs, this doesn't seem like a good return on investment. Sure, it would be pretty spectacular (as long as the weather co-operates), but you could ease a lot of suffering/bring a lot of pleasure for a lot more people in so many ways that this just doesn't make sense from any angle other than what amount to nothing more than dick-measuring.
posted by dg at 3:09 PM on May 21, 2016


I think it would be far more fitting to de-orbit an existing bit of space junk for the purpose. I'm sure between now and then they can find something suitable and use it to test one of the many proposals to clean up near space.

If you're going to do the thing where you send up something to rendezvous with the target, latch on and fire a retro-rocket, you can by all means pack in some particularly fizzy chemicals for the ride. But I'm sure they won't be necessary.
posted by Devonian at 3:50 PM on May 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am amused that the Gizmodo link uses natrium for orange, rather than its more common name, sodium.

Probably quoting from a Japanese source. See also: Kalium.
posted by oheso at 4:12 PM on May 21, 2016


Seveneves was the last thing I read and all this makes me think of is the white sky/hard rain, except man-made.
posted by unknownmosquito at 6:41 PM on May 21, 2016


Hey, guys- I just got back from the cottage! What's been going on?





Um...did somebody move my potted Brugmansia?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:54 PM on May 21, 2016


Absolutely disgusting.

Why do you think so?
posted by pattern juggler at 7:52 PM on May 21, 2016


Am I missing something here? All the articles say that Star-ALE "wants to" do this for the 2020 Olympics. I'm not seeing anything, in English or in Japanese, saying that they have actually been contracted to do it, or even requested to do it. They're just saying "We'd love if the Tokyo Olympic Committee paid us a shitload of money to do this."
posted by Bugbread at 4:29 AM on May 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


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