Foundation Isn’t Waiting For An Asteroid Mission

The B612 Foundation is a private organization interested in helping track near-Earth objects (NEO).  Robert Irion reported on the Foundation (paywall) in the August 23rd edition of Science and was interviewed for the magazine’s podcast.  (A transcript is also available.)  The Foundation is working on it’s own satellite project.  But where George Clooney’s satellite sentinel is focused on Earth from orbit, the B612 Sentinel mission would orbit the Sun to observe the flight of objects that could impact our planet.

The Foundation dates to 2002, but the Sentinel mission picked up speed last year as the Foundation finalized arrangements with NASA and a contractor to develop the spacecraft and arrange for mission support.  Fundraising continues, though I’m inferring from the interview with Irion that the efforts are focused on wealthy donors.  Granted, the mission isn’t cheap – $450 million over 10 years – but I think some notable percentage of this could be gathered via crowdfunding mechanisms in addition to the Foundation’s more traditional grass roots fundraising technique.