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Planetary Resources Needs YOUR Help to Hunt for Alien Planets

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Tue Jun 11, 2013 9:18 pm via: Planetary Resources
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Asteroid mining company announces new crowdfunding goal to enhance the ARKYD telescope with capability to search for alien planets around distant stars.

Bellevue, Washington – Alien planets are out there and Planetary Resources needs your help to find them! That’s right, the same high-powered telescope technology being used by Planetary Resources to identify near-Earth asteroids can also be used to hunt for what scientists call extrasolar planets or “exoplanets” – which are very much alien worlds. For the first-time ever, this capability will be placed directly into the hands of students, researchers and citizen scientists.

Planetary Resources recently launched a campaign on Kickstarter for the ARKYD – the world’s first crowdfunded space telescope accessible to the public. In only 13 days, the company has already reached well over 85 percent of its original US$1 million goal. Today, the company is announcing that if the total amount pledged exceeds US$2 million in the 19 days remaining in the campaign, it will invest the additional funds to enhance the ARKYD space telescope technology to enable it to search for alien planets!

These upgrades would add exoplanet transit detection capability by enhancing the telescope’s stability systems and dedicating time to monitor candidate star systems. A special bonus is that this upgrade would also allow for better measurement of the spin-properties of asteroids, using the same technique. “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.

The company is partnered with one of the world’s leading exoplanet scientists, Sara Seager, Ph.D. of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Dr. Seager, Professor of Physics and Planetary Science at MIT stated, “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. 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.”

Peter H. Diamandis, M.D., Planetary Resources Co-Founder and Co-Chairman said, “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.” He continued, “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.”

To date, more than 9,400 people from around the globe have pledged their support for the ARKYD. Over 8,000 have requested their very own #SpaceSelfie, another 900 people have donated time on the ARKYD to education and many others are looking to gain access to the telescope to explore the cosmos on their own!

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