How Artificial Meteors Are Generated
If you are lucky, on a clear night sky you can see a meteor streaking across the sky. This streak of light is due space dust re-entering the atmosphere at high speeds, causing aerodynamic heating1 and emitting a glow of light that is observed on the ground at night.
What we do is to artificially generate meteors by releasing a "meteor particle" from a satellite into the atmosphere.
ALE's meteors, compared to natural ones, are more massive and travel through the atmosphere more slowly, which allows them to be observed for a longer time.
Note 1: Aerodynamic heating is the phenomenon that occurs when an object travelling through the atmosphere at supersonic speeds compresses the air in front of it, and the drag produced by the compressed air causes the object to heat up and generate light.