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How the Private Sentinel Space Telescope Will Hunt Asteroids (Infographic)

From its vantage point near Venus’ orbit, Sentinel will have a clear view of Earth’s orbit while looking away from the glare of the sun.
From its vantage point near Venus’ orbit, Sentinel will have a clear view of Earth’s orbit while looking away from the glare of the sun. (Image credit: Karl Tate, SPACE.com Contributor)

The privately funded Sentinel project would launch a space telescope into a solar orbit at about the distance of the planet Venus.

Once in place, Sentinel Space Telescope would be pointed away from the sun and would start scanning the area around the orbit of Earth for undiscovered asteroids that might be on Earth-impacting trajectories. The current plan is to launch Sentinel in 2016 aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

The spacecraft would build on technologies designed for NASA space telescopes such as Kepler and Spitzer observatories. Sentinel uses a 20-inch infrared telescope to scan for moving objects that could be asteroids in near-Earth orbits.

Sentinel would be the world’s first privately funded deep space telescope. The B612 Foundation is dedicated to protecting Earth from potentially devastating asteroid impacts. The group is named after the asteroid home of the hero of “The Little Prince,” a children’s book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

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Karl Tate
Karl's association with SPACE.com goes back to 2000, when he was hired to produce interactive Flash graphics. Starting in 2010, Karl has been TechMediaNetwork's infographics specialist across all editorial properties.  Before joining SPACE.com, Karl spent 11 years at the New York headquarters of The Associated Press, creating  news graphics for use around the world in newspapers and on the web.  He has a degree in graphic design from Louisiana State University. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Karl on Google+.