Orbit Design and Analysis of Artificial Meteors Generating Micro-satellites

Yoshihiko Shibuya, Toshinori Kuwahara, Yuji Sato, Shinya Fujita, Hayato Watanabe, Yui Mitsuhashi

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


This paper describes the orbit design and evaluation results of a micro-satellite for generating artificial meteors. The Space Robotics Laboratory of Tohoku University and ALE Co., Ltd. have jointly developed micro-satellites "ALE-1" and "ALE-2" to demonstrate the generation of artificial meteors. The ALE-1 was launched from Uchinoura Space Center in Japan on January 18, 2019, and the ALE-2 was launched from Mahia, New Zealand on December 6, 2019. ALE-1 was injected into a sun-synchronous orbit with an altitude of 500 km and local time of descending node (LTDN) 8:00, and ALE-2 was injected into a sun-synchronous orbit with an altitude of 400 km and LTDN 20:00. The ALE satellites carry hundreds of meteor particles to generate artificial meteorites. To generate artificial meteors, the particles are released in the opposite direction to the satellite's direction of travel, which causes the particles to lower the satellite's orbit and re-enter the atmosphere as an artificial meteor. In order to generate an artificial meteor, the observation point must be at night, and the meteor must be observable from any point in the world, including the oceans. In addition, to prevent the released meteor particles from colliding with other satellites or spacecraft, the possibility of collision must be analyzed in advance. However, in the case of the International Space Station (ISS), where resident astronauts stay, more stringent safety measures are required. Therefore, we ensure safety by orbiting at an orbital altitude of 400 km, which is lower than the ISS. For generate artificial meteor, it is important to inject the satellite into the right orbit. It is also necessary to analyze the orbit of meteorite particles in order to predict the meteorite emission point. However, the orbit must be maintained because the orbital altitude of the mission requirement is low and is continuously affected by the atmosphere. In this paper, we analyze the swath width of a satellite from the orbit of an artificial meteorite and compare the orbits of the satellites to show the proper orbit of the satellite. Furthermore, a method to maintain the orbit is studied and its effectiveness is shown by simulation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event28th IAA Symposium on Small Satellite Missions 2021 at the 72nd International Astronautical Congress, IAC 2021 - Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Duration: 2021 Oct 252021 Oct 29


  • Artificial meteors
  • Micro-satellite
  • Mission design
  • Orbit design
  • Sun-synchronous orbit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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