A rocket carrying a satellite on a mission to deliver the world’s first artificial meteor shower blasted into space on Friday, Japanese scientists said.
A start-up based in Tokyo developed the micro-satellite for the celestial show over Hiroshima early next year as the initial experiment for what it calls a “shooting stars on demand” service.
The satellite is to release tiny balls that glow brightly as they hurtle through the atmosphere, simulating a meteor shower.
It hitched a ride on the small-size Epsilon-4 rocket that was launched from the Uchinoura space centre by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on Friday morning.
The rocket carried a total of seven ultra-small satellites that will demonstrate various “innovative” technologies, JAXA spokesman Nobuyoshi Fujimoto told AFP.
By early afternoon, JAXA confirmed all seven satellites had successfully been launched into orbit.
“I was too moved for words,” Lena Okajima, president of the company behind the artificial meteor showers, told the Jiji Press agency.
“I feel like now the hard work is ahead.”
The company ALE Co. Ltd plans to deliver its first out-of-this-world show over Hiroshima in the spring of 2020.
The satellite launched Friday carries 400 tiny balls whose chemical formula is a closely-guarded secret.
That should be enough for 20-30 events, as one shower will involve up to 20 stars, according to the company.
ALE’s satellite, released 500 kilometres (310 miles) above the Earth, will gradually descend to 400 kilometres over the coming year as it orbits the Earth.
– Worldwide meteor shower shows –
The company plans to launch a second satellite on a private-sector rocket in mid-2019.
ALE says it is targeting “the whole world” with its products and plans to build a stockpile of shooting stars in space that can be delivered across the world.
When its two satellites are in orbit, they can be used separately or in tandem, and will be programmed to eject the balls at the right location, speed and direction to put on a show for viewers on the ground.
Tinkering with the ingredients in the balls should mean that it is possible to change the colours they glow, offering the possibility of a multi-coloured flotilla of shooting stars.
Each star is expected to shine for several seconds before being completely burned up — well before they fall low enough to pose any danger to anything on Earth.
They would glow brightly enough to be seen even over the light-polluted metropolis of Tokyo, ALE says.
If all goes well, and the skies are clear, the 2020 event could be visible to millions of people, it says.
Okajima has said her company chose Hiroshima for its first display because of its good weather, landscape and cultural assets.
The western Japan city rose from the ashes after the 1945 US atomic bombing and faces the Seto Inland sea where the floating gate of Itsukushima Shrine is.
ALE is working in collaboration with scientists and engineers at Japanese universities as well as local government officials and corporate sponsors.
It has not disclosed the price for an artificial meteor shower.
Trump officials could face criminal charges for USPS sabotage — and the president may not be able to pardon them
Members of the Trump administration could face legal jeopardy over efforts to sabotage U.S. Postal Service operations to interfere with the 2020 presidential elections.
"Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) made a criminal referral to the New Jersey Attorney General on Friday night, asking him to impanel a grand jury to look at possible breach of state election laws by President Trump, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and others for 'their accelerating arson of the post office,' he said. Alarming headlines have emerged in recent days as many states prepare to facilitate widespread mail balloting due to the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump openly admitted he was withholding federal aid from the postal service to prevent mail-in voting, and USPS has notified 46 states and D.C. that it will struggle to deliver some mail ballots on time," The Daily Beast reported Friday.
Maddow reveals how one state stood up to Trump’s USPS cuts — and won
MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow's opening segment on Friday focused on a positive story of political pressure stopping one of the Trump administration's attacks on the U.S. Postal Service.
Maddow reported how NBC Montana reporter Maritsa Georgiou had doggedly reported on the removal of postal boxes in Missoula, where she is based. Missoula has been a long-time Democratic Party stronghold.
Montana has a competitive U.S. Senate election in 2020, with Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock challenging first-term Republican Sen. Steve Daines.
As Georgiou chased the story, she learned there were also plans to remove boxes in the battleground of Billings. And more planned for the blue town of Bozeman. And other towns.
Pepsi joins the chorus of people dunking on Tucker Carlson over Kamala Harris
The Pepsi soda company mocked Fox News personality Tucker Carlson on Friday evening.
On Tuesday, Carlson flipped out after a guest attempted to teach him how to pronounce the name of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), who is running for vice president on Joe Biden's ticket.
Video of the exchange was posted on Twitter by Nikki McCann Ramirez, a researcher at the watchdog group Media Matters for America.
Tucker Carlson loses it when a guest corrects his pronunciation of Kamala Harris's name pic.twitter.com/1fHIrPGuwN