Planetary Resources offers a stretch goal to reinvigorate its crowdfunding campaign

Arkyd exoplanet illustration

Planetary Resources says its Arkyd-100 spacecraft can be used for exoplanet searches if it reaches a stretch goal of $2 million in its ongoing crowdfunding campaign.

Yesterday, asteroid mining company Planetary Resources announced a “stretch goal” for its ongoing million-dollar crowdfunding effort: if the company can raise at least $2 million, double its original goal, it will enhance its Arkyd-100 series spacecraft to enable searches for extrasolar planets. The additional funds would go to improved stability systems and dedicated observing time to search for exoplanets by the transit method (similar to NASA’s now-disabled Kepler spacecraft) and/or gravitational lensing, used by some groundbased telescopes. “The enhanced Arkyd will be a huge step toward important new scientific discoveries enabled by citizen scientists,” Planetary Resources president Chris Lewicki said in the statement.

One of the members of the company’s board of advisors is Sara Seager, an MIT planetary scientist who specializes in exoplanet studies. “The enhanced version of the Arkyd telescope will be an important source of data for exoplanets that can only be obtained from space, above the blurring effects of Earth’s turbulent atmosphere,” she said in the statement. The small size of Arkyd, which would limit its ability to detect transits, doesn’t appear to deter her: she’s also been involved with an MIT project called ExoPlanetSat that plans to look for transiting exoplanets around relatively bright stars using a 3U CubeSat, a spacecraft considerably smaller than an Arkyd-100.

The announcement of the stretch goal comes as some observers suggested that the company’s crowdfunding campaign had stalled out. The campaign, which started on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter on May 29, started extremely quickly, raising half a million dollars within the first two days. It has not, though, kept up that pace, and as of midday today was at just over $880,000, with 18 days left to raise the remaining $120,000.

Analysis of the progress, using data obtained from the Kickstarter tracking site Kicktraq, shows that Planetary Resources does not appear in danger of falling short of that $1-million goal (critical since Kickstarter uses an all-or-nothing funding model), but that reaching $2 million will require a significant uptick in activity. The chart below shows, in red, the funding pledged to date, while the blue line projects that through the end of the month, using the last week’s activity as an admittedly simplistic guide:

Arkyd fundraising data

If they maintain their current trend, they’ll pass the $1-million milestone in about a week and finish with about $1.2 million. (Kicktraq’s projections put the final tally in the range of $1.1 to $1.4 million.) They have, according to the Kicktraq data, already raised more today (June 12) than yesterday, but would need a significant and sustained increase to be in reach of that $2-million stretch goal. Expect more social media (and even more conventional media) pushes by the company through the remainder of the month to make sure they reach $1 million and push for $2 million.

3 comments to Planetary Resources offers a stretch goal to reinvigorate its crowdfunding campaign

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>