Friday, July 20, 2012

Kickstarter-Funded Satellite: Research by General Public

Do-It-Yourself Space Science

A California startup seeks to democratize space research by putting a tiny, custom-built satellite into orbit — and letting the public decide how to use it.

Space-based research is expensive, complicated, and time-consuming. Just look at the James Webb Space Telescope, which has been under construction for nearly a decade and whose budget has swollen to almost $9 billion. These things will always be run by governments and corporations.


Designers plan to put ArduSat into a low-Earth orbit, at about 600km. The diminutive satellite will gather power with solar panels, two of which are cut away in this illustration to show its stacked Arduino hardware and cameras.
Maybe not. A small team of scientists and engineers is trying a new approach to space science — a model that takes its cues, and its funding, largely from private individuals. They propose to put a 1-kg satellite called ArduSat into space, and to make its sensors available to anyone who made a minimum contribution to the project piggybank.

NanoSatisfi, the startup company behind the effort, is based at NASA's Ames Research Center in California (though NASA has no formal ties to the project). Last month, the group started a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter, a website that solicits donations from the general public. Their initial target was $35,000. When the campaign wound down last Sunday, the tally stood at $106,330.

Those donations came from 676 backers around the world.



Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
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