Wednesday, June 12, 2013

ARKYD Space Telescopes - affordable mini-Hubble?

Planetary Resources is a company in Bellevue, WA that is working on developing small space telescopes which will be used for finding near Earth asteroids.  Mainly for future resource mining, but also for tracking the dangerous ones that could impact the Earth, such as the one that hit Chelyabinsk a few months back.  It will also be used to find planets around stars, which is probably needed soon with the recent problems with the Kepler spacecraft currently scanning the sky between Lyra and Cygnus. At this time, 132 planets have been found.
Alex, we're in space!
Although, I think the really exciting thing about these spacecraft is the fact that they will be publicly available for astronomical imaging currently through where they are taking pledges to reach a $1 Million goal.  $200 will get you a chance to point it at an object of your choice, and $25 will get you an image of a photo you send up with the Earth in the background.  I did donate $25 to the program so I can get my own "selfie" photo as they call them, your photo with the Earth in the background (See my sample above).  The fee of $200 is a reasonable deal to get permission to point a space telescope above the clouds/smog/turbulent atmosphere and get a photo of M-51. (If you are a reader of my blog, you probably figured out that is my favorite target to image!)
The telescope is 200mm so that is somewhere between a Meade ETX-125 and LX-90 in equivalent aperture, but this is a fast scope at f/4 focal ratio.  The ETX is a fairly small scope, but above the atmosphere and light pollution for $200?  It's like a mini Hubble!
Here are the techie details about the telescope: (it's got some nice filters on board that I'd love to try here in my own backyard!)
  • Primary Optic: 200 mm aperture, f/4 primary optic
  • Resolving capability: ~ 1 arcsecond
  • Detection capability: to visual magnitude 19
  • 5 MP+ image sensor
  • Wavelength range: 200 nm to 1100 nm
  • Available filters: UV bandpass (< 300 nm), B, V, R, OIII, Hα, 1 μm bandpass, Luminence (Clear)
  • Active image stabilization
I did send Planetary Resources a letter and resume for a "General Space Nut" job position they offered.  I'm a perfect fit for a job like that.
Hey, Planetary Resources! Please take a moment to view my resume,  cover letter and LinkedIn page please call me anytime. I'd be very interested in talking to you about any job that I might be a fit for.

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