While the world follows with certain fear the trajectory of the 165-foot-diameter asteroid 2012 DA14 that will pass by the planet on Friday, space mining start-up Planetary Resources is promising its outer space technology will soon help detect and characterize potentially hazardous asteroids before they get any close to our planet.
In a press release late Thursday, the asteroid miner announced that its Arkyd-100 Low Earth Orbit spacecraft will have the capability and infrastructure for intercepting and deflecting potentially rogue objects.
Scientists estimate there are over 500,000 near-earth asteroids the size of DA14 or bigger. A body of very similar characteristic to the DA14 most likely strikes the Earth every 1000 years or so, and does so with enough kinetic energy to destroy a city.
That is why experts are closely tracking 434 of those bodies, which are large enough and come close enough our planet to be of potential future concern, said Planetary Resources.
While none of these pose any significant risk today, the asteroid mining firm warned increased surveillance is required.
"Our planet is orbiting in a swarm of small remnants from the formation of the Solar System. Some of these objects have orbits that either approach or even cross Earth's orbit around the Sun. There are currently only 10,000 known near-Earth asteroids, with close to a million more that still need to be catalogued," said Tom Jones, Ph.D., veteran NASA astronaut, planetary scientist and Planetary Resources advisor.
"2012 DA14 will be making history when it streaks past Earth. Surprisingly, it was only discovered last year. Asteroids, in addition to being extremely valuable for precious resources, can also be extremely dangerous," said Eric Anderson, Co-Founder and Co-Chairman, Planetary Resources, Inc. "Knowing where the objects are, and having a comprehensive catalogue of them, will be an indispensable asset for human civilization over the next several centuries."
While the primary business of Planetary Resources is to prospect and mine asteroids with high concentrations of water and precious metals, the company views that this economically driven activity will also aid in protecting Earth from potentially hazardous asteroids.
Founded in 2009 by Eric Anderson and Peter H. Diamandis, M.D., Planetary Resources is financed by industry-launching visionaries, three of whom include Google's CEO Larry Page & Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and Ross Perot, Jr., Chairman of Hillwood and The Perot Group, who are committed to expanding the world's resource base so that humanity can continue to grow and prosper. Some of the company's advisors include film maker and explorer James Cameron, former Chief of Staff, United States Air Force General T. Michael Moseley (Ret.) and Sara Seager, Ph.D, Professor of Planetary Science and Physics.