Arkyd Telescope Reaches $1M Goal, But Still Looking For Planet-Hunting Funds

by Elizabeth Howell on June 20, 2013

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Artist concept of the Arkyd telescope in space. Credit: Planetary Resources Inc.

Artist concept of the Arkyd telescope in space. Credit: Planetary Resources Inc.

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.

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:

About 

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

Planemo June 20, 2013 at 4:58 PM

Lets say I hit a huge after taxes mega-lottery money of $500,000,000. I’d buy myself a used space-t-scope like Hubble when Webb-t-scope is up there. I’d make the Gov an ‘offer they just cannot refuse. :-).. .

arrow2010 June 23, 2013 at 7:26 AM

I just backed this with a $65 pledge. This is the way we should be doing astronomy, not by government.

oblivion328 June 25, 2013 at 1:49 AM

I suppose if so many people think the tax money going to NASA is being wasted even as negligible as it really is, the best way to get around them is funding this kind of stuff directly.

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