With more than $1 million in crowdfunded money secured for a public asteroid-hunting space telescope, the ultimate question arises: what about the promised planet chase?
Planetary Resources’ Arkyd-100 telescope reached its $1 million goal yesterday (June 20). But the self-proclaimed asteroid-hunting company has an ambitious aim to add extrasolar planet searching to the list if it can double that goal to $2 million.
The Kickstarter campaign for Arkyd still has 10 days remaining. To keep the funds flowing, the group behind it has released several “stretch” goals if it can reach further milestones:
– $1.3 million: A ground station at an undisclosed “educational partner” that would double the download speed of data from the orbiting observatory.
Example of an orbital ‘selfie’ that Planetary Resources’ ARKYD telescope could provide to anyone who donates to their new Kickstarter campaign. Credit: Planetary Resources.
– $1.5 million: This goal, just released yesterday, is aimed at the more than 20,000 people who signed up for “space selfies” incentive where uploaded pictures are photographed on the telescope while it is in orbit. For this goal, “beta selfies” will be taken while the telescope is in the integration phase of the build.
– $1.7 million: The milestone will be announced if Arkyd reaches 15,000 backers. (It has more than 12,000 as of this writing.)
– $2 million: The telescope will hunt for alien planets. Planetary Resources added this goal last week following technical problems plaguing NASA’s Kepler space telescope that could derail the agency’s prolific planet finder.
Also, a hat-tip to NASA’s Peter Edmonds, who works in public affairs for the Chandra X-ray Observatory, for pointing out the campaign’s Kickstarter video in Klingon. Check it out below: