The crowdfunding campaign is off to a slow start, but the PHASST-1 telescope still has more than a month to reach its $88,816 (€65,000) goal of deploying telescopes devoted to searching for near-Earth asteroids.
The Potentially Hazardous Asteroid Search & Tracking Telescope, as the acronym stands for, will begin with two telescopes: an f/1 Baker-Nunn camera near Arequipa, Peru and a 50cm f/3.6 astrograph near Ager, Spain.
“Even though PHASTT-1 will have a large field of view compared to most telescopes (~5x) of a similar aperture, competing in the area of asteroid search is difficult due to a large number of teams doing similar work. Because of this, we are designing PHASTT-1 as not only a search telescope but also as a followup and characterization instrument — two key areas where we can make an impact,” the IndieGogo campaign page states.
“Follow-up observations are important as they help us refine the orbits of potentially hazardous objects and narrow the uncertainties around how close an asteroid will come to the Earth. Characterization of asteroids is also important as it helps us understand the physical properties of asteroids. This understanding critical if we want to know how to best deal with a ‘rogue’ asteroid that is on an impact course or if we just want to know which asteroids would make for interesting near-Earth exploration targets.”
The principles including astronomers, a technology consultant and a laser ranging specialist. You can read more technical details on the IndieGogo campaign page or the PHASTT-1 website. If they get the money they need, they aim to be operational by the middle of next year. The campaign completes Nov. 26.
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.