The non-profit B612 Foundation aims to build, launch, and operate the first privately funded deep space mission—a space telescope in orbit around the Sun that will map the inner Solar System in search of asteroids that could impact Earth.

The Sentinel mission will create the first comprehensive dynamic map of the inner solar system showing the positions and orbital tracks of the hundreds of thousands of Near Earth Asteroids as they orbit the Sun. Not only is this map needed to protect the future of planet Earth, but mapping the inner solar system is the first step to exploring our own solar system. Just as the U.S. geological surveys and the mapping expedition of Lewis and Clark were instrumental in the development of the American frontier, the Sentinel Map will be instrumental as humanity opens up the new frontier that is the inner solar system. Our solar system currently is an uncharted wilderness.

The spacecraft and instrument use high-heritage flight proven deep space systems, originally developed by NASA, to minimize technical and programmatic risks. These heritage missions include large space-based telescopes (Spitzer, Kepler), a large format camera made up of many individual detectors (Kepler), and a cryogenically cooled instrument (Spitzer). By detective and tracking nearly all of the Near Earth Objects greater than 50 meters in diameter, Sentinel will create a map of the solar system in Earth’s neighborhood enabling future robotic and manned exploration. The Sentinel data will also identify objects that are potentially hazardous to humans to provide an early warning to protect the Earth from impact.

Interested in learning more? Watch “Changing the course of the solar system: Dr. Ed Lu at TEDxMarin” below:

About Ed Lu
Dr. Lu served as a NASA Astronaut for 12 years. He flew the Space Shuttle twice, the Russian Soyuz, and a 6-month tour on the International Space Station. Altogether he logged over 206 days in space and an EVA (spacewalk) totaling 6 hours and 14 minutes. Dr. Lu flew as a mission specialist on STS-84 in 1997, as a payload commander and lead spacewalker on STS-106 in 2000, as flight engineer of Soyuz TMA-2, and served as NASA ISS science officer and flight engineer on ISS Expedition-7 in 2003.

In 2003, in the weeks following the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Dr. Lu was called upon by NASA to launch to the International Space Station in order to maintain operations on orbit with a 2 person skeleton crew. He completed the Russian Soyuz training in just 9 weeks and became the first American to launch as the Flight Engineer aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. He and cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko then spent 6 months aboard the ISS, demonstrating that the Space Station could be maintained while carrying on productive scientific research with just 2 people.

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posted by: Soderman/SSERVI Staff

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