Sentinel is a deep-space mission being led by the B612 Foundation, a nonprofit group of scientists and explorers whose goal is to build, launch, and operate the first privately funded deep space mission.
The Sentinel mission will create the first comprehensive and dynamic map of the inner solar system. By scanning the entire night half of the sky every 26 days, the spacecraft will identify every moving object with repeated observations in subsequent months. Sentinel is expected to catalog 90 percent of the asteroids larger than 140 meters in Earth’s region of the solar system.
The spacecraft will launch into a Venus-like orbit about the sun which significantly improves the efficiency of asteroid discovery during its 6.5 year mission. By creating a map of the solar system in Earth’s neighborhood, Sentinel will enable future robotic and manned exploration. The mission data will also identify objects that are potentially hazard¬ous to humans to provide an early warning to protect the Earth from impact.
Sentinel’s data will be transmitted first to the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, Boulder, Colo., and then distributed to education, research, scientific institutions and governments via NASA’s Minor Planet Center, Cambridge, Mass. As part of the B612 Foundation-NASA Space Act Agreement of June 2012, NASA JPL (NEO Center), Pasadena, Calif. will conduct a comprehensive hazard analysis, making orbit determinations and threat assessments.
The B612 Foundation is working with Ball Aerospace to design and build the Sentinel Infrared (IR) Space Telescope, a space-based Infrared (IR) telescope with a 20-inch diameter aperture.
Ball was NASA’s industrial partner for both the Kepler and Spitzer Space Telescope missions. These missions relied on high-heritage flight proven deep space systems, originally developed by NASA, to minimize technical and programmatic risks. For Kepler, the mission to search for Earth-size planets around other stars, Ball was the mission prime contractor and built the photometer and spacecraft, and managed system integration and test for the NASA Ames Research Center and Jet Propulsion Laboratory-led Discovery class mission. For Spitzer, Ball provided the Cryogenic Telescope Assembly (CTA) and two of the three science instruments: the Infrared Spectrograph and the Multiband Imaging Photometer.
Sentinel will take approximately five years to complete development and testing to be ready for launch in 2017-2018. The launch vehicle of choice is the SpaceX Falcon9.
The B612 Foundation aims to build, launch, and operate the world’s first privately funded deep-space telescope mission to create the first comprehensive dynamic map of our inner solar system, identifying the current and future locations and trajectories of Earth crossing asteroids. Mapping the great unknown of the inner solar system is the first step to opening the next frontier. The B612 Foundation believes that humanity can harness the power of science and technology to protect the future of civilization on this planet, while extending our reach into the solar system.