I grew up about two miles away, give or a take, from the Monahans Sandhills State Park. There were various events hosted out there throughout each season, but my favorite was always the meteor shower viewing parties. We would arrive and there would be telescopes set up with people instructing you where to look and what you will see when you do. The sky is such an incredible scene.
Meteor showers are always an event. The media starts to spread the word and space-lovers gather either in their homes or at viewing events to see the little balls of light dance across the sky. There have been a few recently that I have been unable to see due to cloud cover, although on a clear night, you might be able to catch the light show in the sky. But what if you could control the light show? If there happened to be cloud cover, you could wait it out or postpone it for a more clear night. Japanese start-up company, ALE, is trying to make customizable, man-made meteor showers a possibility.
For Your Viewing Pleasure
ALE’s plan is to launch mini satellites in orbit that will house the specially made “space pellets,” and have them ready to drop on command. These man-made meteors will have various chemical formulas, and the goal is to be able to alter what colors we will see when the chemicals burn up in the atmosphere. We would essentially be able to have our very own stellar fireworks display, great for giving weddings and birthdays a unique touch. The company is working with scientists and engineers from various universities in Tokyo to create the perfect tiny satellites and formulas to make this idea a reality.
In the Name of Science
Upon hearing this news, a true space enthusiast might be a little offended. I know I was. The beauty and magic to a meteor shower is that it is a natural occurrence, and something not tampered with by man. However, creating these artificial meteors wouldn’t be about a man-made space display for entertainment purposes only, but releasing these pellets could potentially help scientists learn more about our atmosphere. There is an area in our atmosphere that scientists have yet to really explore, because it is too high for balloons but too low for satellites. With these man-made meteors, developers would have control over when and where they burned up in the sky, giving scientists a chance to map them and learn more about the temperature and density of certain areas in our sky.
I think it’s safe to say that any genuine stargazer is going to greatly appreciate the beauty of a natural meteor shower over a man-made meteor shower, but it’s a generous leap in science and the study of our Earth that I think we all can agree to support. And you have to admit, though I’m sure it would get old quick, it’s pretty neat to think that you could celebrate your birthday with your very own meteor shower display.