Kongsberg Satellite Services AS (KSAT), a Norway-based ground station operator, has signed an agreement with Japan-based space entertainment company ALE, which is planning to create meteor showers on demand using microsatellites.
Under the agreement, KSAT will provide ground stations services to support ALE’s microsatellites. The first two microsatellites are planned for launch in 2019, beginning with a launch on Japan space agency JAXA’s Epsilon rocket no later than March 2019.
Known as Sky Canvas, ALE’s meteor shower project is the first step in its goal to provide space-based entertainment in order to encourage scientific research and development. The first meteor shower is slated to take place in 2020, over Japan’s Hiroshima and Setouchi area because of good weather, variety of landscapes, and cultural assets. Thereafter, ALE will commercialize its services on the global market.
“We aim to produce artificial meteor showers by projecting small particles, made out of special materials, from the orbiting microsatellites. When the particles re-enter the earth’s atmosphere, they burn through a process known as plasma emission, creating the appearance of beautiful meteor showers to impress the spectators on the ground”, says ALE CEO Dr Lena Okajima. “These two first test-satellites will have enough pellets for about 20 events, and if skies are clear enough, each show could be seen around 120 mile range”.
The mission also has a more scientific side to it – by studying the path of artificial meteor showers where the angle of incidence, velocity and materials are known, ALE is hoping to be able to better understand the mechanics of naturally-occurring meteor showers and meteorites.
Okajima says “We hope not only to entertain people with meteor shower shows, but also to utilize the data we gain through our operation to learn more about the atmosphere of Earth, which is not well known today”.
KSAT ́s Sales Director Asia, Kenneth Olafsson, said, “KSAT will utilize the KSAT Lite network tailored to small satellite operators. The trust and confidence in KSAT as a low-cost, flexible and customer-driven provider has been the key in finalizing a solution for ALE. The Newspace scene evolving in Japan is really interesting and the focus on new and innovative ideas and business concepts makes a difference in driving the industry forward.”