Sentinel is a space-based infrared (IR) survey mission to discover and catalog 90 percent of the asteroids larger than 140 meters in Earth’s region of the solar system. The mission should also discover a significant number of smaller asteroids down to a diameter of 30 meters. Sentinel will be launched into a Venus-like orbit about the sun which significantly improves the efficiency of asteroid discovery during its 5.5 year mission.
The B-612 Foundation is set to unveil plans for its privately-funded asteroid hunting orbital telescope on Thursday at noon EDT (9 a.m. PDT; 1600 GMT) during a press conference in San Francisco.
Bill Nye the Science Guy provided some early intel on the project for about 40 attendees at the monthly LA Space Salon on Wednesday. Nye, who is scheduled to fly up to San Francisco for the press conference on Thursday morning, described the plan as follows:
The foundation will place an infrared telescope (originally called Sentinel but since renamed) into space at approximately the orbit of Venus (.7 AU). It will look out at the solar system with the sun at its back. An infrared instrument is being used because asteroids reflect well in this spectrum. It is believed that there are as many as 100,000 Earth-crossing asteroids.
Funding for the telescope is coming from investors in Silicon Valley. Nye mentioned that officials had met with Elon Musk of SpaceX, although he wasn’t clear on whether the company had agreed to launch the telescope.
UPDATE: The telescope is indeed called SENTINEL and plans call for launching it on a SpaceX Falcon 9.
B612 FOUNDATION TO ANNOUNCE FIRST PRIVATELY FUNDED DEEP SPACE MISSION
Who: The B612 Foundation
What: Press Conference to Launch the B612 Foundation and Sentinel Space Telescope Mission-the first privately funded deep space mission.
When: Thursday, June 28, 2012 — 8:30 AM – 11:00 AM (PT)
Where: Morrison Planetarium, California Academy of Sciences, 55 Music Concourse Drive, San Francisco, CA, in Golden Gate Park. (Pay Parking in CA Academy Garage)
Announcement: On June 28, 2012, the B612 Foundation will announce its plans to build, operate and launch the world’s first privately funded deep space mission–a space telescope to be placed in orbit around the Sun. We will create the first comprehensive dynamic map of our inner solar system showing the current and future locations and trajectories of Earth-crossing asteroids, paving the way to protect the Earth from future impacts and opening up the Solar System to future exploration.
Speakers at the June 28 Press Conference:
Ed Lu, Chairman & CEO,former Space Shuttle/ISS/Soyuz Astronaut
Rusty Schweickart, Chairman Emeritus,Lunar Module Pilot, Apollo 9
Scott Hubbard, Project Architect,Stanford University, former Dir., NASA Ames
Harold Reitsema, Mission Director,former Dir. Science Mission Dev., Ball Aerospace
The B612 Foundation (www.b612foundation.org) 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. Mapping the great unknown of the inner solar system is the first step to opening up this next frontier. 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.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Observations from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) have led to the best assessment yet of our solar system’s population of potentially hazardous asteroids. The results reveal new information about their total numbers, origins and the possible dangers they may pose.
Potentially hazardous asteroids, or PHAs, are a subset of the larger group of near-Earth asteroids. The PHAs have the closest orbits to Earth’s, coming within five million miles (about eight million kilometers) and they are big enough to survive passing through Earth’s atmosphere and cause damage on a regional, or greater, scale.
The new results come from the asteroid-hunting portion of the WISE mission, called NEOWISE. The project sampled 107 PHAs to make predictions about the entire population as a whole. Findings indicate there are roughly 4,700 PHAs, plus or minus 1,500, with diameters larger than 330 feet (about 100 meters). So far, an estimated 20 to 30 percent of these objects have been found.
DLR PR — It is not entirely clear when exactly the last major asteroid impact on Earth occurred. But there are plenty of examples of impact craters, such as the Nördlinger Ries in Bavaria. That there will be other collisions in the future is something of which Alan Harris, asteroid researcher at the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), is certain. Over the next three and a half years, he will be heading the NEOShield (Near Earth Object Shield) international collaboration, established in January 2012. In total, 13 partners from research institutions and industry will jointly investigate the prevention of impacts by asteroids and comets. The investigations will include the impact of a space probe with the asteroids to deflect them from their threatening courses. The European Union is supporting the project with four million Euros. The partners are contributing another 1.8 million Euros.
SWF PR — A workshop has brought together leading representatives from space agencies and international experts to discuss key issues related to global response and cooperation in the event of a Near Earth Object (NEO) impact threat to Earth.
The gathering of specialists took place August 25-26 in Pasadena, California. The meeting was co-organized and co-sponsored by Action Team-14, part of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS) Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, Secure World Foundation (SWF), and the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) that represents over 350 individuals from 35 nations who have flown in space.
The supporting agency host of the meeting was the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Near Earth Object Observations Program Office.
This recent workshop is a follow-up to previous meetings that took place last year in Mexico City to discuss a NEO Information, Analysis, and Warning Network (IAWN) and in Darmstadt, Germany to confer about a NEO Mission Planning and Operations Group, or MPOG, to plan, organize, and conduct any necessary missions to threatening asteroids.
NASA PR — NASA will launch a spacecraft to an asteroid in 2016 and use a robotic arm to pluck samples that could better explain our solar system’s formation and how life began. The mission, called Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx, will be the first U.S. mission to carry samples from an asteroid back to Earth.
“This is a critical step in meeting the objectives outlined by President Obama to extend our reach beyond low-Earth orbit and explore into deep space,” said NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden. “It’s robotic missions like these that will pave the way for future human space missions to an asteroid and other deep space destinations.”
NASA selected OSIRIS-REx after reviewing three concept study reports for new scientific missions, which also included a sample return mission from the far side of the Moon and a mission to the surface of Venus.
Republicans Vote To Repeal Obama-Backed Bill That Would Destroy Asteroid Headed For Earth The Onion
In a strong rebuke of President Obama and his domestic agenda, all 242 House Republicans voted Wednesday to repeal the Asteroid Destruction and American Preservation Act, which was signed into law last year to destroy the immense asteroid currently hurtling toward Earth.
NASA’s Stardust spacecraft returned new images of a comet showing a scar resulting from the 2005 Deep Impact mission. The images also showed the comet has a fragile and weak nucleus.
The spacecraft made its closest approach to comet Tempel 1 on Monday, Feb. 14, at 8:40 p.m. PST (11:40 p.m. EST) at a distance of approximately 178 kilometers (111 miles). Stardust took 72 high-resolution images of the comet. It also accumulated 468 kilobytes of data about the dust in its coma, the cloud that is a comet’s atmosphere. The craft is on its second mission of exploration called Stardust-NExT, having completed its prime mission collecting cometary particles and returning them to Earth in 2006.
NASA’s Stardust-NExT mission took this image of comet Tempel 1 at 8:39 p.m. PST (11:39 p.m. EST) on Feb 14, 2011. The comet was first visited by NASA’s Deep Impact mission in 2005.
Stardust-NExT is a low-cost mission that will expand the investigation of comet Tempel 1 initiated by NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages Stardust-NExT for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. Joe Veverka of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., is the mission’s principal investigator. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft and manages day-to-day mission operations.
NASA’s Stardust-NExT mission spacecraft will fly by comet Tempel 1 on Monday evening. Live coverage on NASA TV and via the Internet begins at 8:30 p.m. PST (11:30 p.m. EST) from mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Coverage also will include segments from the Lockheed Martin Space System’s mission support area in Denver.
The closest approach is expected tonight at approximately 8:40 p.m. PST (11:40 p.m. EST).
The mission team expects to begin receiving images on the ground starting at around midnight PST (3 a.m. on Feb. 15 EST). Transmission of each image will take about 15 minutes. It will take about 10 hours to complete the transmission of all images and science data aboard the spacecraft.
The live coverage and news conference will also be carried on one of JPL’s Ustream channels. During events, viewers can take part in a real-time chat and submit questions to the Stardust-NExT team at: http://www.ustream.tv/user/NASAJPL2 .
A post-flyby news conference is planned on Feb. 15 at 10 a.m. PST (1 p.m. EST).
The International Symposium on Asteroid Mitigation and Exploration, to be held in College Station, Texas, will bring together an international community of researchers and practitioners to discuss new research results, mitigation and exploration strategies, international collaboration, and public awareness. In additional to presentations from attendees, a round table will be held to discuss future international cooperation, public awareness, and public policy statements.
NASA’s Stardust-NExT spacecraft is nearing a celestial date with comet Tempel 1 at approximately 8:37 p.m. PST (11:37 p.m. EST), on Feb. 14. The mission will allow scientists for the first time to look for changes on a comet’s surface that occurred following an orbit around the sun.