Planetary Resources Seeks Funds for Citizen-Controlled Space Telescope

First Posted: May 30, 2013 10:31 AM EDT

Want a picture of yourself against the backdrop of Earth? It'll only be $25. Planetary Resources is offering incentives to those who donate to their Kickstarter project which aims to eventually launch a citizen-controlled satellite into orbit.

The company is actually a privately owned asteroid mining firm, backed in part by Google Inc's founders, according to Reuters. Eventually, Planetary Resources plans to launch a fleet of low-cost Arkyd 100 spacecraft in order to identify and study asteroids for commercial mining. This newest effort, though, is aimed at exciting the public and gathering further interest in space, according to USA Today.

The company plans to raise $1 million with their Kickstarter project. The low-Earth orbit telescope will use its own Arkyd technology and will eventually be used to send swarms of probes to near-Earth asteroids.

"We're developing the most advanced space technology ever made available to the public," said Peter Diamandis, Planetary Resources co-founder and co-chairman in a statement. "Let's explore the cosmos together!"

The Arkyd telescope will have an external camera and screen in order to allow public access to the telescope. In addition, the telescope will also possess an interface that allows for a variety of interactive and educational material. The new instrument could be a boon to classrooms and citizen scientists across the nation.

"Many of those people wanted to know if they could use Arkyd to look for asteroids to study and to identify potential threats," said Diamandis in an interview with "So the first step we wanted to take was to make the Arkyd 100 available to the public if they wanted it. We are vertically integrating the production of these telescopes, which drives the price of manufacturing down significantly. That way we can make it accessible to the public, especially to educational institutes."

It looks like the company will make its goal, too. By 6 p.m. on Wednesday, only five hours after the project was announced in Seattle, pledges had topped $163,000 from more than 1,480 contributors, according to USA Today. Any proceeds beyond this goal will be used to allow for more access to classrooms, museums and science centers.

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