Florida Tech Students and Faculty Win Time on Asteroid-Hunting Space Telescope

MELBOURNE, FLA.—Students and faculty in Florida Institute of Technology’s Department of Physics and Space Sciences are the Research Grand Prize Winners of the ARKYD Space Telescope education and research competition. The announcement was made June 30.

Planetary Resources Inc. of Seattle will operate the ARKYD Space Telescope, named after the fictional droid manufacturer Arakyd Industries in the Star Wars universe. Launch of ARKYD, the world’s first crowd-funded space telescope is scheduled for August 2015. Its 200mm aperture will be used to hunt for and characterize asteroids for future mining missions.

The education and research competition was part of a successful Kickstarter campaign by Planetary Resources that funded the ARKYD mission at $1.5 million on Sunday June 30. For the competition, participants were asked to produce a video about how the ARKYD telescope would enhance education and research at their institute.

Daniel Batcheldor, physics and space science, led production for Florida Tech with the help of Perry Bird ’13, graduate students Sayali Avachat and Trisha Mizusawa, and Eric Perlman, physics and space sciences. The video can be viewed at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1458134548/arkyd-a-space-telescope-for-everyone-0/posts/523967

As a result of this competition, and in combination with an additional Kickstarter pledge from the Department of Physics and Space Sciences, Florida Tech students may access up to 25 hours of observing time.

“This is an unprecedented opportunity for Florida Tech;” said Batcheldor. “We will be able to involve our students in all aspects of performing research with a space-based telescope.”

More information about the ARKYD Space Telescope is available at: http://www.planetaryresources.com/technology.

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