Kickstarter Telescope Campaign Expanded By Planetary Resources
June 12, 2013

Planetary Resources Upgrading ARKYD Telescope To Exoplanet Hunter Status

Lee Rannals for - Your Universe Online

Planetary Resources, a company best known for its plans to mine asteroids, is launching an expanded crowdfunding campaign through Kickstarter.

The company recently announced its plans to have the public's help to fund its ARKYD space telescope. Planetary Resources has since added plans to enhance the telescope technology to enable it to search for alien planets around distant stars. These upgrades would add exoplanet transit detection capability by enhancing its stability systems and dedicating time to monitor candidate star systems.

According to a recent statement, these upgrades would also allow for better measurement of the spin-properties of asteroids.

“While the ARKYD won´t rival NASA´s US$600 million Kepler spacecraft, which may have to end its mission due to a recent equipment failure, the enhanced ARKYD will be a huge step toward important new scientific discoveries enabled by citizen scientists,” said Chris Lewicki, President and Chief Engineer, Planetary Resources, Inc.

Planetary Resources will be partnering with Sara Seager from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), who is a leading exoplanet scientist.

“We're excited about this game-changing approach that could transform how we do science in the future. It's not just about advanced technology in a small satellite, but a crowdfunded approach to space science that could be revolutionary," Seager said. "The enhanced version of the ARKYD telescope will be an important source of data for exoplanets that can only be obtained from space, above the blurring effects of Earth´s turbulent atmosphere.”

The company said that over 9,400 people have pledged their support for the ARKYD. Planetary Resources has already reached well over 85 percent of its original $1 million goal, and is now extending its goal to $2 million for the new upgrades in the next 19 days.

“We´re confident this campaign will exceed the original goal of US$1 million dollars. We´re now focusing on enhancing the capabilities of the telescope and creating meaningful and epic crowd involvement.” said Peter H. Diamandis, M.D., Planetary Resources Co-Founder and Co-Chairman. “We´re a hardware and inspiration company, and we´re thrilled to provide a new generation of space pioneers with the ability to take a hands-on approach to exploration.”

The Kickstarter project was initially launched as a way to give the public an opportunity to have "unprecedented" access to space. It said the telescope will allow students and scientists access to the most advanced exploration technology.

“When we launched Planetary Resources last year, we had an extraordinary response from the general public. Tens of thousands of people contacted us and wanted to be involved. We are using this Kickstarter campaign as a mechanism to engage the community in a productive way.” said Diamandis. “In the last 50 years, space exploration has been led by national governmental agencies with their own set of priorities; and now we´re changing the nature of exploration. We´re developing the most advanced space technology ever made available to the public. Let´s explore the cosmos together.”