Planetary Resources, a startup that wants to mine asteroids for precious metals, is giving Earthlings a chance to to take “selfies,” or photos of themselves, from outer space.
Here’s how it works: Planetary Resources is developing a space telescope called ARKYD that’s designed to orbit the Earth and look for asteroids that could be worth mining.
The company is planning to launch “several” ARKYDs into space in the summer of 2015, Chris Lewicki, president and chief engineer at Planetary Resources, told us Thursday.
Planetary Resources is making one of the ARKYDs available for public use. It’s running a Kickstarter campaign in which people who contribute at least $25 will get a photo from space.
The company has come up with a nifty way to pull this off: People will actually upload a photo of themselves to ARKYD and then the telescope will take a picture of that photo with the Earth in the background., Lewicki says.
So far, more than 14,600 backers have contributed in excess of $1.2 million to the Kickstarter project, which launched May 31 and is slated to end June 31.
Lewicki says that’s more than $200,000 above the project’s original goal. So Planetary Resources is now aiming higher.
People that pledge $99 will also get five minutes of time with the ARKYD’ telescope, and they’ll be able to scan for nearby asteroids that could pose a threat to Earth, according to the project’s Kickstarter page.
If the Kickstarter reaches $2 million, Lewicki says the ARKYD’s role will be expanded to include searching for planets orbiting nearby stars.
This would be helpful, since NASA’s Kepler space telescope, which has been handling this work since its launch in 2009, broke down last month, some 40 million miles from Earth.
Here’s a video of Lewicki talking about ARKYD:
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