Tuesday, June 18, 2013

You, Me, & Space Make Three: The ARKYD Telescope & Citizen Science

ARKYD 3D Artist Render
Crowd-funded citizen science projects are taking us closer to the goals of providing access to techno-space innovations to general citizens. One such example is ARKYD: A Space Telescope For Everyone. The project, which is soliciting donations right now on KickStarter, is organized by Planetary Resources. Currently, ARKYD is the largest crowd-sourced space campaign in history. 

The idea is to develop an advanced orbiting space telescope that will be funded and controlled by pledges and community involvement. Use of the telescope will be available to students, scientists, universities, and citizen scientist-explorers.

Those who pledge to the project receive access to the website and mobile apps that show the progress of the satellite, photos and videos of the process, and voting rights to cooperate in the future direction of the satellite. In true social media fashion, pledgers can upload an image that can be captured as a #SpaceSelfie with the Earth in the background. The take-home prize here is the use of the main optic to take a picture of distant galaxies or the option to donate telescope time to education. 

Projects like these are important. It helps drive technological innovation and involves average citizens in our collective goals to expand our presence in and understandings of the cosmos. There is a major social benefit to crowd-funded science. I believe it makes for a better society where intellectual pursuit and scientific discovery are (more) valued, supported, interactive, and fun. 

To get involved click here.

(Video Source: Planetary Resources)

Shoot the Moon

Planetary Resources employs vertical integration with most of the tech being designed and built in house. They hope this will allow them to drive innovation, keep costs low, and allow for mass production. 

PR's mission is to "apply commercial, innovative techniques to explore space. We will develop low-cost robotic spacecraft to explore the thousands of resource-rich asteroids within our reach. We will learn everything we can about them, then develop the most efficient capabilities to deliver these resources directly to both space-based and terrestrial customers. Asteroid mining may sound like fiction, but it’s just science." 


Video Source: (Videos from Space)

PR co-founder Peter Diamandis stated, "I co-founded Planetary Resources to prospect and mine close-approaching asteroids and spur the same type of exothermic economic reaction in space that has generated every high-growth era on Earth. To do so we have to break the space status quo by building upon the exponential technology trends quintessential to Singularly University. The culmination of this pursuit is the “ARKYD,” an audacious class of space prospectors that can fit in your carryon luggage. Tri-functional optics that collect stray photons from faint carbonaceous chondrites and use lasers for both ablation spectrometry and deep-space communications across a hundred million miles is just one of a dozen innovations turning science fiction into science fact."

Diamandis is well known for his TED talk and a recent book co-authored with Steven Kotler, "Abundance - The Future is Better than You Think." The text is an unabashedly positive exploration of possible near futures.
The authors tie together advances in artificial intelligence, robotics, infinite computing, ubiquitous broadband networks, digital manufacturing, nanomaterials, synthetic biology, and other exponentially growing technologies. In essence, they argue technology will drive massive growth in human potentials with reduced global suffering and increased quality of life. You can find out more about their theories of abundance here.

 Some interesting facts about the ARKYD KickStarter:

1. This story is compelling. Nearly half of the visitors that watches ARKYD pledge to ARKYD.

2. The ultimate selfie opportunity. Pledgers can upload any personal photo that will be captured from space with planet Earth as the backdrop at a moment in time unique to that person.

3. Cosmos to globe to local: There is a direct connection and use of this tech by local science communities, yet on a global scale.

And apparently, the project is available in Klingon.

Go here for supporter resources


Video Source: Planetary Resources.

Image Source: ARKYD. By Iac74205 (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Image Source: http://www.planetaryresources.com/supporters/ 

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