Author Topic: Asteroid experts plan privately funded Sentinel Space Telescope  (Read 27541 times)

Offline Danderman

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http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/06/19/12303639-asteroid-experts-plan-privately-funded-sentinel-space-telescope?lite

The nonprofit B612 Foundation says it's planning the first privately funded deep-space mission, with the goal of launching an instrument known as the Sentinel Space Telescope to look for potentially hazardous asteroids from a vantage point inside Earth's orbit around the sun.

The foundation, headed by former NASA astronaut Ed Lu, tipped its hand today in an advisory alerting journalists about a press conference to be conducted at 8:30 a.m. PT June 28 at the California Academy of Science' Morrison Planetarium in San Francisco.

"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," the advisory read.

Scheduled speakers include Lu as well as the foundation's chairman emeritus, Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart; project architect Scott Hubbard, a Stanford professor who once served as NASA's Mars czar; and mission director Harold Reitsema, former director of space science missions at Ball Aerospace.

http://b612foundation.org/b612/

« Last Edit: 06/20/2012 01:59 PM by Danderman »

Online Chris Bergin

B612 FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES FIRST PRIVATELY FUNDED DEEP SPACE MISSION
 
NEW INFRARED SPACE TELESCOPE IN SOLAR ORBIT, UP TO 170 MILLION MILES FROM EARTH, WILL PROTECT HUMANITY, MAP THE INNER SOLAR SYSTEM, AND ENABLE EXPLORATION
 
SAN FRANCISCO, CA (June 28, 2012)– In a press conference at the California Academy of Sciences Thursday morning, the B612 Foundation unveiled its plans to build, launch, and operate the first privately funded deep space mission – SENTINEL - a space telescope to be placed in orbit around the Sun, ranging up to 170 million miles from Earth, for a mission of discovery and mapping. The Foundation leadership and technical team include some of the most experienced professionals in the world to lead this effort.
 
“The orbits of the inner solar system where Earth lies are populated with a half million asteroids larger than the one that struck Tunguska (June 30, 1908), and yet we’ve identified and mapped only about one percent of these asteroids to date, said Ed Lu, Space Shuttle, Soyuz, and Space Station Astronaut, now Chairman and CEO of the B612 Foundation.“During its 5.5-year mission survey time, Sentinel will discover and track half a million Near Earth Asteroids, creating a dynamic map thatwill provide the blueprint for future exploration of our Solar System, while protecting the future of humanity on Earth.”
 
Asteroids are a scientific and economic opportunity in that they contain the original building blocks of the Solar System. They are targets for future human exploration, and may contain valuable raw materials for mining.  These asteroids are also a threat in that they can pose great risk to humanity here on Earth. Taking advantage of these opportunities and dealing with these threats require not only knowing where each of these individual asteroids is now, but also projecting where they will be in the future.
 
“For the first time in history, B612’s Sentinel Mission will create a comprehensive and dynamic map of the inner solar system in which we live - providing vital information about who we are, who are our neighbors, and where we are going,” said Rusty Schweickart, Chairman Emeritus of B612, and Apollo 9 Astronaut. “We will know which asteroids will pass close to Earth and when, and which, if any of these asteroids actually threaten to collide with Earth. The nice thing about asteroids is that once you've found them and once you have a good solid orbit on them you can predict a hundred years ahead of time whether there is a likelihood of an impact with the Earth.”
 
Advances in space technology, including advances in infrared sensing and on-board computing, as well as low-cost launch system, have opened up a new era in exploration where private organizations can now carry out grand and audacious space missions previously only possible by governments.
 
“The B612 Sentinel mission extends the emerging commercial spaceflight industry into deep space - a first that will pave the way for many other ventures,” said the former Director of NASA Ames Research Center Dr. Scott Hubbard, B612 Foundation Program Architect and Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University. “Mapping the presence of thousands of near earth objects will create a new scientific database and greatly enhance our stewardship of the planet.”
 
Sentinel Space Telescope
The B612 Foundation is working with Ball Aerospace, Boulder, CO, which has designed and will be building the Sentinel Infrared (IR) Space Telescope with the same expert team that developed the Spitzer and Kepler Space Telescopes.  It will take approximately five years to complete development and testing to be ready for launch in 2017-2018. The launch vehicle of choice is the SpaceX Falcon9.
 
Harold Reitsema, Sentinel Mission Director andformer Ball Aerospace Director of Science Mission Development will lead the technical team.“The Sentinel Space Telescope is a space-based Infrared (IR) telescope with a 20-inch diameter mirror that will depart Earth, headed inwards into the Solar System 40 million miles.  It will perform what is known as a gravitational slingshot maneuver off the planet Venus to enter its final orbit around the sun. This will provide the optimal vantage point to map the locations and trajectories of Earth-crossing asteroids.”
 
Sentinel will scan the entire night half of the sky every 26 days to identify every moving object with repeated observations in subsequent months. Data collected by Sentinel will be sent back to the Earth via NASA’s Deep Space Network, which also will be used for tracking and navigation. Data collected by Sentinel will be transmitted first to the Laboratory for Space Physics, Boulder, Colo., and then distributed to education, research, scientific institutions and governments via NASA’s Minor Planet Center, Cambridge, Mass. As part of the B612 Foundation-NASA Space Act Agreement of June 2012, NASA JPL (NEO Center), Pasadena, Calif. will conduct a comprehensive hazard analysis, making orbit determinations and threat assessments.
 
Education and Public Involvement
The B612 Foundation is working with the California Academy of Sciences and the Planetary Society in the development of education and research programs during the next decade and is looking to expand this research and education network worldwide and encourages all interested parties, including students to contact B612 directly via its website: www.b612foundation.org
 
“We believe our goal of opening up the solar system and protecting humanity is one that will resonate worldwide, said Lu.  “We’ve garnered the support and advice of a number of individuals experienced with successful philanthropic capital campaigns of similar size or larger, and will continue to build our network.”
 
“We've been given a gift, and the gift is that we have the ability now to go out there and actually do something which positively affects the future of humanity on Earth.”
 
About B612
The B612 Foundation 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. 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. Individuals, schools and other academic and research institutions with interest in joining B612 Foundation efforts and events are encouraged to sign up at the Foundation website: (www.b612foundation.org).

Offline BrightLight

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From the spec. sheet on there web site,

http://b612foundation.org/media/sentinelmission/

this looks like it could be a real nice optic, my first cut analysis says on order 25 micron pixel pitch, f1 to f2, probably Cassigrain, no big technology hurtles.

Offline agman25

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A cryogenically cooled 5.5 year mission. Has that been done before?

Offline FinalFrontier

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A cryogenically cooled 5.5 year mission. Has that been done before?


No but it is possible.


This is not going to be a small vehicle. They have it listed on an F9 but something tells me this may end up on an FH.



Per the OP, have to say its sort of like an "its about time" moment when it comes to this for me. We should have been getting a better idea of the asteroid and unknown object situation years ago, this should make a big difference.


Here's to hoping they don't find anything heading this way.
3-30-2017: The start of a great future
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Offline BrightLight

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A cryogenically cooled 5.5 year mission. Has that been done before?


No but it is possible.


This is not going to be a small vehicle. They have it listed on an F9 but something tells me this may end up on an FH.



Per the OP, have to say its sort of like an "its about time" moment when it comes to this for me. We should have been getting a better idea of the asteroid and unknown object situation years ago, this should make a big difference.


Here's to hoping they don't find anything heading this way.
The focal plane will be cooled by a closed loop "cold" finger:
"Designed for 5.5 years of surveying operations.Actively cooled to 40K using a Ball Aerospace two-stage, closed-cycle, Stirling-cycle cryocooler"
these work well, and will function better in a vacuum if the solar shield is adequate.

Offline notsorandom

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A cryogenically cooled 5.5 year mission. Has that been done before?
This is not going to be a small vehicle. They have it listed on an F9 but something tells me this may end up on an FH.
The spec sheet provided by B612 give the Sentinel's mass at 1,500kg. Recently released NLS II info states that the Falcon 9 1.1 will have C3 performance of about  C3=23 (km/s)^2. I'm not sure what the proposed orbit will take but it sounds doable with out a Falcon Heavy.

Offline as58

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Spitzer's cryogenic mission was about 5.5 years.

I don't know much about the B612 foundation. Is their plan realistic? No matter how they're doing it, the mission is not going to be cheap. Do they have the funding ready? For a launch in 2016, they need to start building the spacecraft soon.

Offline LegendCJS

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Active cooling like that mentioned does not use up consumable cryogens, so in principle does not face the lifetime limit like the Spitzer Space Telescope (which did consume cyrogens.)

« Last Edit: 06/28/2012 08:07 PM by LegendCJS »
Remember: if we want this whole space thing to work out we have to optimize for cost!

Offline ugordan

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This post suggests that the C3 requirements for a Venus injection are between 6-12 km2/s2 for good opportunities. Even if the 2017/2018 Venus opportunities require, say, 17 km2/s2, that would still leave 500 kg margin from the current Falcon 9 prediction. 250 kg for a C3 of 20 km2/s2. Sounds doable.

Offline kch

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Offline BrightLight

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Just to put things into perspective, the Spitzer focal plane is cooled to 5.5K and is a broad spectrum IR imager out to 180 microns. The B612 focal plane will be chilled to 40K, an order magnitude less sensitive and work roughly between 5 and 10 microns.  The B612 technology is not a big step, in fact it is well within the current technology, for instance a random search
picked up this web site
http://www.teledyne-si.com/infrared_visible_fpas/index.html
that shows a MWIR arrays at 16 megapixels in 2008, it is no stretch to assume a 50% improvement in the past 4 years. As for cost the array and ASIC is probably on order $10 million, my guess is the whole satellite is on order $100 million. Maybe Launch and operations total on order $250 million.

Offline as58

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I don't know much about the B612 foundation.

Hope this helps:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B612_Foundation

http://b612foundation.org/

:)

Thanks, I knew about their website but I hoped someone would've read through it so I wouldn't need to do that myself...

A quick look at their FAQs shows that they're hoping to start a massive philantrophic campaign. I must admit that I'm quite sceptical of their chances of getting the needed funding (they estimate a cost of a few hundred million, which sounds realistic), at least on their very ambitious schedule.

Offline MP99

See thread NASA Hosts Workshop To Discuss Exploring Near Earth Objects, especially from the point I've highlighted, and especially Blackstar's comments.

AFAICT, one of the big issues with mounting manned missions to NEAs is that the number of known targets is very small, and Earth-based surveys can only find targets that are many years (sometimes decades) away.

cheers, Martin

Offline Blackstar

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The B612 technology is not a big step, in fact it is well within the current technology, for instance a random search
picked up this web site
http://www.teledyne-si.com/infrared_visible_fpas/index.html
that shows a MWIR arrays at 16 megapixels in 2008, it is no stretch to assume a 50% improvement in the past 4 years. As for cost the array and ASIC is probably on order $10 million, my guess is the whole satellite is on order $100 million. Maybe Launch and operations total on order $250 million.

Not even close. This is easily $500 million+

And the processing is not simple.

Offline Blackstar

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AFAICT, one of the big issues with mounting manned missions to NEAs is that the number of known targets is very small

You can count the number of possible targets on one hand after cutting off three fingers.

A space-based survey is required if anybody is going to do that mission.

Offline BrightLight

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The B612 technology is not a big step, in fact it is well within the current technology, for instance a random search
picked up this web site
http://www.teledyne-si.com/infrared_visible_fpas/index.html
that shows a MWIR arrays at 16 megapixels in 2008, it is no stretch to assume a 50% improvement in the past 4 years. As for cost the array and ASIC is probably on order $10 million, my guess is the whole satellite is on order $100 million. Maybe Launch and operations total on order $250 million.

Not even close. This is easily $500 million+

And the processing is not simple.
I should have said - order of magnitude, to me 250, 500, 750 is all about the same - more than 100 million, less then 1 billion.
Processing is a matter of smart people working hard - If I were at B612 I would consider sending the data to a national lab...

Offline Blackstar

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I should have said - order of magnitude, to me 250, 500, 750 is all about the same - more than 100 million, less then 1 billion.
Processing is a matter of smart people working hard - If I were at B612 I would consider sending the data to a national lab...

There's a big difference between $250 million and $1 billion. For planetary missions, there are three general classes:

Discovery--$425 million
New Frontiers--$750 million
Flagship missions-->$1 billion

There is a proposed Discovery class mission from JPL called NEOCam that would operate in Earth orbit. As a Discovery-class mission, it is in the $425 million class (without launch vehicle). Put a similar spacecraft in orbit near Venus, with cryo-cooling, and it's going to cost more.

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/jpl/news/mars20110505.html

Also the NEOCam principal investigator, who knows more about this subject than anybody, has said publicly that the data processing for such a mission is a definite challenge. Indeed, that's one of the reasons why NASA funded the mission for further technology development rather than selecting it outright as a possible Discovery mission.

Simply put, what B612 is proposing to do is neither simple nor cheap.

Offline MP99

AFAICT, one of the big issues with mounting manned missions to NEAs is that the number of known targets is very small

You can count the number of possible targets on one hand after cutting off three fingers.

A space-based survey is required if anybody is going to do that mission.

Absolutely.

As I said in the other thread, if someone else doesn't undertake this sort of survey, NASA needs to do it as an Exploration Precursor. If not, you have to question the NEA part of Flexible Path.

cheers, Martin

Offline notsorandom

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Ball Aerospace has the technical ability to make Sentinel. By launch time in 2016 or later SpaceX should have Falcon 9 running smoothly. I guess the question then is if B612 has or can raise the necessary money. As Blackstar points out that is going to be a good sized pile of money.

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