Grandview will soon have the opportunity to control an orbiting space telescope. Board of Trustees member Karen Swartz has donated $10,000 to the ARKYD Space Telescope Project on behalf of Grandview Preparatory School.
ARKYD is a technologically advanced space telescope that orbits around Earth and is designed to take high-resolution photos of objects in space. With an external screen and an additional camera arm, controllers are able to take pictures of the ARKYD as it orbits Earth, and can even take “Space Selfies” of images displayed on the screen overlooking the planet.
Developed by Planetary Resources, whose primary mission is to develop low-cost robotic spacecraft to explore and mine resource-rich asteroids, a fleet of ARKYD telescopes will be launched to identify asteroids that are “ripe” for further exploration. One ARKYD telescope will be publicly accessible, providing students and scientists with access to technology that costs tens of millions of dollars and resulting in endless educational and research opportunities.
As a sponsored school, Grandview students will have the ability to direct twenty-five main optic observations (meaning the students can determine the photos of space that the telescope will take) and take thirty digital “Space Selfies.” Teachers will receive access to developmentally-appropriate curriculum for all grades, and the school will receive a membership to the Planetary Society and full size desktop model of the ARKYD for use as a teaching tool.
Mrs. Swartz would like to dedicate the model of the ARKYD and the use of the ARKYD technology to her late brother, Dr. Thomas Metcalf, who was an astrophysicist. His passion for astrophysics was fueled by an unexpected encounter with the Sidewalk Astronomers of San Francisco, a group of amateur telescope builders holding a public viewing of the night sky with their assembly of homebuilt telescopes. After the encounter, Dr. Metcalf, then a high school student, built his own reflecting telescope and later developed a career in astrophysics. Dr. Metcalf’s scientific interests were focused on the structure of solar flares, which are great bursts of gas and particles reaching millions of miles into space from the surface of the sun.
“This amazing project will honor my brother and cultivate interest in astrophysics for the students of Grandview,” says Mrs. Swartz. “I am thrilled to provide this opportunity.”
With its fundraising goal reached, Planetary Resources hopes to launch the first satellites in 2015.