B612 Foundation Plans to Launch Space Telescope to Track Asteroids

Posted on July 1, 2012

B612 Sentinel Orbit

The B612 Foundation plans to build, launch and operate the first privately funded deep space mission. B612's mission is to launch a space telescope, called Sentinel, that will track asteroids in Earth's region of the solar system. The telescope will follow a Venus-like orbit around the Sun. The goal of the mission is to catalog 90% of the asteroids larger than 140 meters as well as discover smaller asteroids. B612 plans to start building Sentinel in late 2012. It says it will take about five years to build the telescope.

The organization says only about 10K of the more than half million asteroids (larger than Tunguska 1908) whose orbits cross Earth's orbit have been discovered and tracked. NASA's Near Earth Object Program currently tracks Near-Earth objects or NEOS. B612 says in its FAQ that "NASA's Spaceguard survey has succeeded in mapping 90 percent of the largest NEAs (larger than 1 km), yet due to the limitations of searching for asteroids using mostly ground based optical telescopes, only about one percent of these asteroids larger than Tunguska have been discovered and tracked to date."

You can find a quick fact sheet of B612's plans to map these asteroids here.

Take a look:

Image: B612 Foundation