2020 Olympics Could Feature Man-Made Shooting Stars

By Giuliana Manca
Giuliana Manca
Giuliana Manca
May 23, 2016 Updated: May 23, 2016

Tokyo’s 2020 opening ceremony may be a unique entertainment spectacular. 

Japanese start-up company ALE Co., Ltd. would like to create a man-made meteor shower for the opening ceremony of the 2020 Summer Olympics, hosted by Japan. 

Hundreds of multi-colored shooting stars would light up the skies around Tokyo at a diameter of up to 125 miles. 

The technology for this endeavor was developed under the company’s “Sky Canvas” project and employs the use of a phenomenon called plasma emission.

A micro satellite, containing up to 1,000 “source particles,” would be launched into orbit around the Earth. The particles would each consist of various materials to create different colored “flame reactions.” 

(ALE, Co., Ltd.)
(ALE Co., Ltd.)

Between 60 to 80 km (35 to 50 mi) above the Earth’s surface, the pellets would ignite, blazing across the sky for several seconds.

Since the particles would travel slower and longer than naturally occurring shooting stars, the show could be enjoyed for longer than natural meteor shows. 

ALE estimates an audience of around 30,000,000 people in the area surrounding Tokyo could enjoy the spectacle. 

However, the light show comes with a hefty price tag; each pellet costs $8,000 to produce, adding up to $8 million for the particle alone, the cost of the satellite and launch notwithstanding.

Yet the scientists behind Sky Canvas believe the project would illuminate scientific understanding of the little-explored upper atmosphere while simultaneously entertaining millions.  

Dr Lena Okajima—CEO and Founder of ALE—along with several colleagues published a paper in Acta Astronautica during Spring 2016.

It noted that the man-made meteor shower “could contribute to a better understanding of the global environment as well as different aspects of astronomy and planetary science.”