Nonprofit Raising Funds For Asteroid Threat Detection Mission
By Mark Carreau
Source: Aerospace Daily & Defense Report
“While we have been finding more and more NEAs, no one has been doing anything about what you do when you find one with your address on it,” says Schweickart, the Apollo 9 lunar module pilot and an advisor to the U.N. and NASA on asteroid threat mitigation. “We’ve come to realize that technology available to us can deflect an asteroid, provided you have adequate warning.”
Lu and Schweickart represent half of the 10-year-old foundation’s organizing team.
The Sentinel mission seeks to extend past NASA asteroid-identification campaigns like the recently completed NEO Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEO WISE) mission and the older Spaceguard Survey that relied on ground-based telescopes.
Funds raised by the foundation, which carry the incentive of a tax deduction for qualified U.S. donors, would pay for a solar-powered, scanning 50-cm IR telescope from Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. The observatory would draw on Ball’s experience with instrument development for NASA’s Kepler, Spitzer, Deep Impact and Hubble Space Telecope missions.
B612 has selected the Falcon 9 as the vehicle of choice for a launch from Cape Canaveral in 2017-18. Though intended for a five-year mission, Sentinel’s hardware would be developed to operate for up to a decade.