The asteroid mining company Planetary Resources has just announced the launch of the Asteroid Zoo, which is kind of like SETI, but for asteroids. The program, a collaboration between Planetary Resources and Zooniverse, the Internet’s largest collection of citizen science projects of all shapes and sizes, is designed to encourage anyone and everyone to join the hunt for Near Earth Asteroids that might be dangerous and/or full of mining potential.
A month ago, Planetary Resources (the Asteroid Mining Company) began a Kickstarter campaign to raise $1 million for a publicly accessible space telescope, ARKYD. This prospecting telescope isn’t looking for asteroids, per se — it’s looking for whatever the public wants it to look for.
The telescope is set to launch in 2015, which leaves plenty of time to sort out the details regarding who gets to control it, how, and for how long. Planetary Resources is particularly interested in facilitating use of the telescope by educational institutions so students, faculty, and other researchers can use ARKYD to enhance their own work. Maybe ARKYD can get an up-close glimpse at the new Sunjammer spaecraft.
If you’re a regular GFR reader, you have probably heard the name Planetary Resources. They’re the company, backed by folks like director James Cameron and Ross Perot Jr., that plans to begin mining asteroids a couple of years from now. It will be fascinating to see if they can really achieve their ambitious goals, but now they’ve announced another very cool project that you can be a part of: a space telescope that contributors will be able to use to photograph outer-space wonders or perform their own research.
The satellite will have a $1 million price tag and is targeted to launch in 2015, so Planetary Resources announced Wednesday that they will be opening the project up for crowdfunding donations. As with Kickstarter projects, the larger the donation, the more access you get to the telescope. A $200 donation will allow you to aim and take one picture with the telescope; for $450, you get three pictures.
While those prices might seem high compared the the entry-level donations for most crowdfunding projects, Planetary Resources co-founder Peter Diamandis hopes organizations such as schools and museums will take advantage of this program. Contributors can also choose to cede their time/photos to such organizations.
There have been some exciting landmarks in space exploration in the past year or so. Private corporations like SpaceX have proven that they’re dead serious about their commitment to pushing space exploration forward in a way many of the major governments haven’t tried in a long time. We’ve had headlines that a few years ago would have read like outright science fiction, from a reality show that wants to give people a one-way trip to Mars, to a plan to mine freakin’ asteroids that includes James Cameron among its supporters. That latter jaw-dropper is under the auspices of the company Planetary Resources, and The Atlantic interviewed PR co-founder Eric Anderson a while back about the coming age of space exploration, expansion, and even colonization.
This Wednesday at the Farnborough International Air Show, Indiana Bowie, otherwise known as Sir Richard Branson, just announced a new venture for the space tourism company Virgin Galactic. Even though they haven’t completed testing their vehicle Space Ship Two, a plan to put satellites into space using White Knight Two as a launch platform is already in the works. The new vehicle will have Virgin Galactic’s killer trademark paint job, as well as their easy-to-remember naming scheme. Enter “Launcher One”.
We’ve been talking a lot this week about the plan of a new company called Planetary Resources. Backed by such luminaries as the founders of Google and mega-director James Cameron, they intend to break the bonds of Earths atmosphere in search of profit. They’re mining asteroids.
This sounds pretty awesome, but maybe it’s too good to be true? Jon Stewart asked that very question last night on The Daily Show, and to get a real answer, he brought in astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson for what is apparently going to be a new Daily Show segment called “Bulls*t or No Bullsh*t”.
Here’s the full segment. Neil comes in at the end to serve up some legitimate wisdom…