TransAstra and Slooh to provide students with asteroid detection tools

LOGAN, Utah — Space logistics startup TransAstronautica announced a partnership Aug. 9 with online astronomy platform Slooh to offer U.S. schools access to a global network of ground-based and space-based telescopes.

“We will find moving objects in space with a partnership between education, industry and government,” said Joel Sercel, TransAstra’s founder and CEO. SpaceNews. “For the first time, thousands of amateurs and children of all stripes will be able to log into the global network of telescopes optimized for finding moving bodies in space.”

Under the agreement, TransAstra and Slooh will collaborate to install TransAstra’s Sutter telescopes at Slooh and TransAstra observing sites around the world.

Slooh currently operates telescopes at the Canary Islands Institute of Astrophysics and the observatory at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Slooh plans to add telescope sites in the United Arab Emirates and India.

TransAstra’s first Sutter telescope, which is designed to detect high-velocity objects moving through cislunar and deep space, was installed in April at the Winer Observatory in Arizona. TransAstra operates a second Sutter telescope at the Sierra Remote Observatory in California.

Together, the observatory sites will provide the students with 24-hour coverage of the night sky.

“This removes an important barrier for anyone to enter the new space age,” said Michael Paolucci, founder and CEO of Slooh. “Not all of us are going to be able to get up in a spaceship, and even Ph.D. astronomers scramble to get time on telescopes. We offer 24-hour access to the night sky that is not dependent on the weather.”

TransAstra, a Los Angeles startup focused on orbital logistics and space mining, developed the Sutter telescope to map asteroid minerals. In addition to the ground-based observations, TransAstra and Slooh plan to launch a small commercial telescope within two years.

“Once deployed, this telescope will be the first of its kind to allow school children and amateurs from around the world to control a space-borne astronomical instrument to find moving bodies in space,” according to an Aug. 9 TransAstra press release.

The spaceborne telescope will serve as a demonstration for Sutter Ultra, a mission involving “hundreds of affordable commercial telescopes equipped with Sutter technology to be mounted on just three modest-sized spacecraft and flown in heliocentric space,” Sercel said. “Our calculations show that in its first year of operation, Sutter Ultra could find up to 300 times more asteroids than have been found in the entire history of astronomy. It’s a game-changing breakthrough.”

TransAstra is also working with Slooh to figure out how students can share credit for asteroid discoveries or name their finds.

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