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Planetary Resources raises funds for Earth observation platform

Posted on May 31, 2016 by Kathy Fey. Space mining company Planetary Resources has plans to refit its asteroid prospecting satellite system to create an Earth observation platform.
According to Gizmag, the observation system, named Ceres, will involve the company’s Arkyd spacecraft being outfitted with infrared and hyperspectral sensors. The craft will monitor Earth industries and resources from orbit.

Planetary Resources has raised $21.1 million for the project, which will put ten satellites into low-Earth orbit. The refitted Arkyd space telescope will be turned toward Earth to provide lower-cost, on-demand information about natural resources and industrial activity anywhere on the surface.

The next-generation Arkyd satellite will be delivered into orbit by a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster.

“As we continue toward our vision of the expansion of humanity and our economy into the Solar System, our team has been working on the critical technologies required to detect and identify the most commercially viable near-Earth asteroids and their resources,” Chris Lewicki of Planetary Resources said in a statement. “To characterize these resources, it required more than just a picture, and our team has developed advanced spectral sensors to serve this need. We have also created new technologies for onboard computing, low-cost space platforms, and are now applying these transformative technologies in additional markets.”

The craft will collect data in 40 color bands ranging from the visible to near-infrared spectrum. Ceres will also have thermal and night imaging capabilities.

The company anticipates being able to provide analysis for a number of industries, including mineral prospecting, agriculture, gas, oil, forestry and industrial operations. The system will also be able to provide data on algae blooms, wildfires, and water pollution.

“With Ceres, Planetary Resources has leapfrogged traditional images for monitoring Earth’s natural resources, creating far-ranging opportunity. It’s a seismic shift for the new space economy,” Bryan Johnson of Planetary Resources said.