Technology

Our Satellites

World's first man-made shooting star satellite

ALE's man-made shooting star satellites were developed together with Tohoku University.
Our satellites, ALE-1 and ALE-2 are both equipped with multiple sensors that measure attitude and position along with three independent controls making it extremely reliable. As a result, our satellites can release particles to emit light precisely at a designated location, can prevent collisions with other satellites and avoid producing space debris.

The meteor release device is a payload (mission system) built with Japanese craftsmanship such as highly precise processing technologies and high-quality components. Though the particles are released at a very high speed (maximum 400m/s), the error remains below 1%, which enables a safe and highly accurate generation of shooting stars on demand.

ALE's operation system and procedures ensure the shooting stars trajectory crosses Earth's atmosphere. Our meteor particles are released after confirming that there are no other spacecrafts on the designated path, which prevents space debris generation.

When entering Earth's atmosphere from an altitude of about 80km, the particles will completely decelerate and disappear due to air resistance and aerodynamic heating. Therefore, they will not fall on the ground.

ALE-1 satellite launched by JAXA Epsilon rocket
(Launched on January 18, 2019)
Performance test of the particle release device in the vacuum chamber

Plasma & Material Technology

Our plasma & material technology

When the meteor particles enter Earth's atmosphere, they become high-temperature plasma that emits light and will eventually vanish.

ALE has developed a compact plasma wind tunnel to simulate this phenomenon and to test different materials for the meteor particles. We are researching mechanisms for material ablation caused by aerodynamic heating. This can enable further development of materials for spacecraft, and contribution to meteor sciences.

ALEʻs plasma wind tunnel
ALEʻs plasma wind tunnel
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The above light emission experiment images are from the ground experiments result. The visibility, colors and appearances may differ when in outer space.

Small Satellite Technology

Our efforts to prevent space debris

Today's active space developments are increasing the number of objects in outer space. It is said that in the near future, these objects will collide with one another and cause a cascade that increases the probability of further collisions, resulting in more space debris (Kessler Syndrome).

ALE, together with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) has developed a space debris prevention device using EDT (ElectroDynamic Tether) for small satellites PMD (Post-Mission Disposal) which leverages Earth's magnetic field.

Click here to learn more about our EDT.

Diagram of space debris prevention component utilizing EDT

EPHEMERIS