The nonprofit B612 Foundation says it's planning the first privately funded deep-space mission, with the goal of launching an instrument known as the Sentinel Space Telescope to look for potentially hazardous asteroids from a vantage point inside Earth's orbit around the sun.
The foundation, headed by former NASA astronaut Ed Lu, tipped its hand today in an advisory alerting journalists about a press conference to be conducted at 8:30 a.m. PT June 28 at the California Academy of Science' Morrison Planetarium in San Francisco....
...A spokeswoman for the B612 Foundation, Diane Murphy, told me that the advisory was the only information being made public in advance of the press conference.
That means it could be more than a week before we get formal word about the projected cost of the mission, its financial backers, projected launch date or other key details.
However, the concept for the Sentinel Space Telescope has been percolating among asteroid-watchers and activists for years — providing an advance glimpse at what the project would entail.
Facing the threat
The B612 Foundation was established almost a decade ago to call attention to the potentially catastrophic threats posed by near-Earth objects. For example, an asteroid strike is thought to have led to the dinosaurs' demise 65 million years ago, and as recently as 1908, a much smaller cosmic impact wiped out half a million acres of Siberian forest. ...
Астронавты и ученые хотят запустить телескоп для защиты от астероидов
МОСКВА, 28 июн - РИА Новости. Некоммерческая организация B612 Foundation, основанная астронавтами НАСА и американскими учеными, в 2017-2018 году собирается запустить собственный инфракрасный телескоп для поиска и отслеживания потенциально опасных астероидов, сообщает в четверг агентство Ассошиэйтед Пресс.
Организация получила свое название в честь астероида, на котором жил Маленький Принц, персонаж одноименного рассказа Антуана де Сент-Экзюпери. Ее учредители, среди которых, в частности, астронавт "Аполлона-9" Расти Швайкарт (Rusty Schweickart), считают, что НАСА и астрономическое сообщество в целом уделяют недостаточно внимания огромному количеству небольших астероидов, изучая только космические объекты диаметром как минимум в один километр. Между тем, по оценкам ученых, таких "мелких" астероидов в окрестностях Земли может быть до 500 тысяч.
"Мы знаем об этих объектах, и мы можем действовать, чтобы предотвратить (их столкновение с Землей)", - сказал Швайкарт, чьи слова приводит агентство Ассошиэйтед Пресс.
Организация совместно с компанией Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp, создателями телескопа-"охотника" за экзопланетами "Кеплер", разрабатывает проект телескопа Sentinel. С помощью космической обсерватории, которая, как предполагается, должна проработать на орбите вокруг Солнца не менее пяти с половиной лет, ученые рассчитывают искать небольшие астероиды - по мнению авторов проекта, с орбиты Sentinel, который будет находиться на расстоянии примерно от 50 до 270 миллионов километров от Земли, это можно будет делать гораздо быстрее, чем с помощью наземного оборудования. За свою плановую миссию Sentinel должен обнаружить не менее 90% всех астероидов диаметром более 150 метров.
Запустить телескоп планируется в 2017-2018 годах, в качестве ракеты-носителя B612 Foundation рассматривает ракету Falcon 9, которая в мае успешно отправила к МКС частный космический корабль Dragon. По оценкам авторов идеи, на реализацию проекта потребуется несколько сотен миллионов долларов, и фонд планирует начать сбор средств в ближайшее время.
Как отмечает Ассошиэйтед Пресс, само американское космическое агентство ранее рассматривало возможность запуска подобной миссии, но отказалось от нее из-за высокой стоимости - по оценкам экспертов НАСА, в 2003 году общие затраты на такой проект оценивались в 500 миллионов долларов.
Интернет-издание Wired пишет, что участники первой в своем роде частной миссии по космическим исследованиям за пределами околоземной орбиты планируют публиковать данные о траекториях обнаруженных астероидов в открытом доступе.
Глава организации, астронавт программы шаттлов Эд Лу (Ed Lu) выразил надежду, что за "посевным" финансированием, которое B612 Foundation уже получила от нескольких венчурных капиталистов, последуют более масштабные частные инвестиции.
"Мы не пытаемся нагнать на всех страху, мы открываем нашу Солнечную систему... Наш призыв должен давать силы - давайте просто сделаем это", - сказал Лу.
Другая американская частная компания Planetary Resources в апреле 2012 года впервые в истории объявила о планах добычи на астероидах металлов платиновой группы, в число которых, помимо самой платины, входят иридий, рений, осмий, родий и палладий, а также воды - для систем жизнеобеспечения и получения водородно-кислородного ракетного топлива.
THE B612 FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES THE FIRST PRIVATELY FUNDED DEEP SPACE MISSION NEW INFRARED SPACE TELESCOPE IN SOLAR ORBIT, UP TO 170 MILLION MILES FROM EARTH, WILL PROTECT HUMANITY, MAP THE INNER SOLAR SYSTEM, AND ENABLE EXPLORATION
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (June 28, 2012) – In a press conference at the California Academy of Sciences Thursday morning, the B612 Foundation unveiled its plans to build, launch, and operate the first privately funded deep space mission – SENTINEL – a space telescope to be placed in orbit around the Sun, ranging up to 170 million miles from Earth, for a mission of discovery and mapping. The Foundation leadership and technical team include some of the most experienced professionals in the world to lead this effort.
“The orbits of the inner solar system where Earth lies are populated with a half million asteroids larger than the one that struck Tunguska (June 30, 1908), and yet we’ve identified and mapped only about one percent of these asteroids to date, said Ed Lu, Space Shuttle, Soyuz, and Space Station Astronaut, now Chairman and CEO of the B612 Foundation. “During its 5.5-year mission survey time, Sentinel will discover and track half a million Near Earth Asteroids, creating a dynamic map that will provide the blueprint for future exploration of our Solar System, while protecting the future of humanity on Earth.”
Asteroids are a scientific and economic opportunity in that they contain the original building blocks of the Solar System. They are targets for future human exploration, and may contain valuable raw materials for mining. These asteroids are also a threat in that they can pose great risk to humanity here on Earth. Taking advantage of these opportunities and dealing with these threats require not only knowing where each of these individual asteroids is now, but also projecting where they will be in the future.
“For the first time in history, B612’s Sentinel Mission will create a comprehensive and dynamic map of the inner solar system in which we live – providing vital information about who we are, who are our neighbors, and where we are going,” said Rusty Schweickart, Chairman Emeritus of B612, and Apollo 9 Astronaut. “We will know which asteroids will pass close to Earth and when, and which, if any of these asteroids actually threaten to collide with Earth. The nice thing about asteroids is that once you’ve found them and once you have a good solid orbit on them you can predict a hundred years ahead of time whether there is a likelihood of an impact with the Earth.”
Advances in space technology, including advances in infrared sensing and on-board computing, as well as low-cost launch system, have opened up a new era in exploration where private organizations can now carry out grand and audacious space missions previously only possible by governments.
“The B612 Sentinel mission extends the emerging commercial spaceflight industry into deep space – a first that will pave the way for many other ventures,” said the former Director of NASA Ames Research Center Dr. Scott Hubbard, B612 Foundation Program Architect and Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University. “Mapping the presence of thousands of near earth objects will create a new scientific database and greatly enhance our stewardship of the planet.” Sentinel Space Telescope
The B612 Foundation is working with Ball Aerospace, Boulder, CO, which has designed and will be building the Sentinel Infrared (IR) Space Telescope with the same expert team that developed the Spitzer and Kepler Space Telescopes. It will take approximately five years to complete development and testing to be ready for launch in 2017-2018. The launch vehicle of choice is the SpaceX Falcon9.
Harold Reitsema, Sentinel Mission Director and former Ball Aerospace Director of Science Mission Development will lead the technical team. “The Sentinel Space Telescope is a space-based Infrared (IR) telescope with a 20-inch diameter mirror that will depart Earth, headed inwards into the Solar System 40 million miles. It will perform what is known as a gravitational slingshot maneuver off the planet Venus to enter its final orbit around the sun. This will provide the optimal vantage point to map the locations and trajectories of Earth-crossing asteroids.”
Sentinel will scan the entire night half of the sky every 26 days to identify every moving object with repeated observations in subsequent months. Data collected by Sentinel will be sent back to the Earth via NASA’s Deep Space Network, which also will be used for tracking and navigation. Data collected by Sentinel will be transmitted first to the Laboratory for Space Physics, Boulder, Colo., and then distributed to education, research, scientific institutions and governments via NASA’s Minor Planet Center, Cambridge, Mass. As part of the B612 Foundation-NASA Space Act Agreement of June 2012, NASA JPL (NEO Center), Pasadena, Calif. will conduct a comprehensive hazard analysis, making orbit determinations and threat assessments. Education and Public Involvement
The B612 Foundation is working with the California Academy of Sciences and the Planetary Society in the development of education and research programs during the next decade and is looking to expand this research and education network worldwide and encourages all interested parties, including students to contact B612 directly via its website: www.b612foundation.org
“We believe our goal of opening up the solar system and protecting humanity is one that will resonate worldwide, said Lu. “We’ve garnered the support and advice of a number of individuals experienced with successful philanthropic capital campaigns of similar size or larger, and will continue to build our network.”
“We’ve been given a gift, and the gift is that we have the ability now to go out there and actually do something which positively affects the future of humanity on Earth.” About B612
The B612 Foundation aims to build, launch, and operate the world’s first privately funded deep space telescope mission to create the first comprehensive dynamic map of our inner solar system, identifying the current and future locations and trajectories of Earth crossing asteroids. The B612 Foundation believes that humanity can harness the power of science and technology to protect the future of civilization on this planet, while extending our reach into the solar system.
Individuals, schools and other academic and research institutions with interest in joining B612 Foundation efforts and events are encouraged to sign up at the Foundation website: ( www.b612foundation.org ).
Ball Aerospace/B612 Foundation Sign Contract for Sentinel Mission
BOULDER, Colo., Oct. 30, 2012
Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. and the non-profit B612 Foundation have signed a contract for Ball to create prototype infrared imaging sensors for the Sentinel Mission, a deep space mission to protect Earth by providing early warning of threatening asteroids. Ball’s detector design characterization initiates the first phase of developing Sentinel’s 20-inch diameter, space-based infrared telescope.
Sentinel is led by B612, a group of highly regarded scientists and explorers whose goal is to build, launch, and operate the first privately funded deep space mission. The mission will create a comprehensive and dynamic map of the inner solar system to catalog 90 percent of the asteroids larger than 140 meters in Earth’s region of the solar system. The map will detail the paths of asteroids during the next 100 years to provide decades of notice of threatening asteroids on a collision course with Earth.
Ball’s advanced detector technology is responsible for many of the most spectacular space images ever taken, including those returned by the Kepler mission, the Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes, the Deep Impact mission and the HiRISE camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. These missions developed flight proven deep space systems that will be used to minimize the technical and programmatic risks on the Sentinel mission. Ball’s state-of-the-art Detector Technology Center which opened in 2006 will play a critical role in producing the Sentinel camera.
“Sentinel is unique because it relies on proven systems that will now be leveraged for a privately-funded mission,” said Cary Ludtke, vice president and general manager of Ball’s Civil and Operational Space strategic business unit.
“Ball was our first and only choice as the major contractor for Sentinel,” said Ed Lu, Chairman, B612 Foundation. “The company is a pioneer in space observatories with a track record of excellence spanning more than 55 years. We are thrilled to have them as our partner.”
The B612 Foundation recently announced the formation and initial findings of its Sentinel Special Review Team (SSRT). The SSRT’s first charge was a review of the technical requirements and management structure for Sentinel and proposed plan evaluation. This successful review was conducted September 11-13 in Boulder, where the Sentinel spacecraft will be built.
Sentinel will launch into a Venus-like orbit around the sun, which significantly improves the efficiency of asteroid discovery during its 6.5-year mission. By creating a map of the solar system in Earth’s neighborhood, Sentinel will enable future robotic and manned exploration. The mission data will also detect and track myriad objects potentially hazardous to humanity, and provide decades of warning of impending impacts, enough to easily deflect threatening asteroids using existing technology.
To date, only about one percent of the nearly one million asteroids that could potentially hit Earth with devastating consequences have been observed and tracked. In just the first few weeks of operation, Sentinel will surpass this total, and during the first five years of operation, is expected to discover 50 times more near-Earth asteroids than have been found by all other telescopes throughout history combined. Sentinel will take approximately five years to complete development and testing, to be ready for launch in 2017-2018.
Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. supports critical missions for national agencies such as the Department of Defense, NASA, NOAA and other U.S. government and commercial entities. The company develops and manufactures spacecraft, advanced instruments and sensors, components, data exploitation systems and RF solutions for strategic, tactical and scientific applications. For more information visit www.ballaerospace.com.
Ball Corporation (NYSE: BLL) is a supplier of high quality packaging for beverage, food and household products customers, and of aerospace and other technologies and services, primarily for the U.S. government. Ball Corporation and its subsidiaries employ more than 14,500 people worldwide and reported 2011 sales of more than $8.6 billion. For the latest Ball news and for other company information, please visit http://www.ball.com .
The B612 Foundation believes we should find threatening asteroids before they find us. Today’s meteor explosion over Chelyabinsk is a wake-up call that the Earth orbits the Sun in a shooting gallery of asteroids, and that these asteroids sometimes hit the Earth. Later today, a separate and larger asteroid, 2012 DA14, narrowly missed the Earth passing beneath the orbits of our communications satellites. We have the technology to deflect asteroids, but we cannot do anything about the objects we don’t know exist. To date, less than 1% of asteroids larger than the one that leveled Tunguska in 1908 have been tracked. The B612 Foundation Sentinel Space Telescope, to be launched in 2018, will provide a comprehensive map of the locations and trajectories of threatening asteroids and will give humanity the decades of warning needed to prevent asteroid impacts with existing technology. By the end of its planned lifetime, Sentinel will have discovered well over 90% of the asteroids that could destroy entire regions of Earth on impact (those larger than 350ft in diameter) and more than 50% of the currently unknown DA14-like near-Earth asteroids.
The B612 Foundation has undertaken this Sentinel project as a non-governmental initiative, somewhat akin to a growing number of private space ventures originated in the past few years. The foundation, however, is not undertaking this project for profit; we are a non-profit corporation. Our motivation is strictly to ensure the survival of life on Earth – all of it. And while NASA is cooperating with us by providing certain communication and analytic services, we are excited, as a private venture, to welcome the participation of all the crew of Spaceship Earth in this great endeavor.
Does the crew of Spaceship Earth raise our awareness and accept responsibility for our voyage into the future? Or do we sit back as passengers, comfortably assuming that there must be a captain and crew doing this job on our behalf?
The B612 Sentinel mission is testament to our belief that we, together, are responsible for the future of life on our small planet; we invite you to join us in addressing this cosmic challenge.
BOULDER, Colo., Oct. 30, 2012 Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. and the non-profit B612 Foundation have signed a contract for Ball to create prototype infrared imaging sensors for the Sentinel Mission, a deep space mission to protect Earth by providing early warning of threatening asteroids. Ball’s detector design characterization initiates the first phase of developing Sentinel’s 20-inch diameter, space-based infrared telescope.
The Planetary Resources kickstarter has been open for less than five seven thirty one hours and has already raised over $100,000 $142,000 $470,000 (or 10% 14% nearly 50% of the goal). The one million goal will likely be reached June 1st.
The goals that we want to achieve with this Kickstarter mission are four-fold:
* To give students access to space capabilities — Whether studying planets in a 5th grade class or writing a graduate thesis, students of all ages will have the ability to direct the telescope and explore what interests them! We’re planning some exciting new educational opportunities just for K-12 educational programs.
* To support important research and discovery — There are thousands of institutions and researchers in need for greater access to in-orbit space observatories. The ARKYD will provide a new, low-cost resource to help observe distant galaxies, search for alien planets, and monitor the skies for potentially dangerous asteroids. Researchers at MIT, the University of Washington, and across the globe have shown interest in using the ARKYD to further their important research.