The B612 Foundation is a private foundation dedicated to protecting the Earth from asteroid strikes. As of 2002[update], the initial goal was to "significantly alter the orbit of an asteroid in a controlled manner by 2015". The current nearterm goal is to design and build an asteroid-finding space telescope and then launch it in the mid-2010s.
The B612 project grew out of a one-day workshop on asteroid deflection organized by Piet Hut and Ed Lu at NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas, on October 20, 2001. Participants Rusty Schweickart, Clark Chapman, Piet Hut, and Ed Lu established the B612 Foundation on October 7, 2002.
Schweickart, who as of October 2010[update] is the chairman of the board, was an early public face of the foundation. The board of directors is rounded out by Chapman, Hut, Lu, Daniel David Durda (eponym of 6141 Durda and another participant of the October 2001 workshop) and Geoffrey Baehr (former chief networking officer at Sun Microsystems and former partner at U.S. Venture Partners).
The foundation is named for the home asteroid of the eponymous hero of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince. Also inspired by The Little Prince is an asteroid discovered in 1993, though not identified as posing any threat to Earth impact, named 46610 Bésixdouze: The numerical part is the hexadecimal number 'B612' translated to decimal, while the textual part is French for "B six twelve".
The B612 Foundation is a California 501(c)(3) non-profit, private foundation. Financial contributions to the B612 Foundation are tax-exempt in the United States. Its principal offices are in Mountain View, California; they were previously located in Tiburon, California.
In the aftermath of the 2013 Russian meteor event—where an approximately 20 metres (66 ft)-diameter asteroid entered Earth's atmosphere and became a brilliant superbolide meteor before exploding in an air burst over Chelyabinsk, Russia, at a height of about 23 km (14 mi),—the B612 foundation experienced a "surge of interest in projects to detect asteroids before they strike Earth" and "an increase in donations."
The Sentinel program is the cornerstone of the Foundation's efforts. The infrared telescope would be launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket and sent to its position in a Venusian orbit around the Sun. The Sentinel's mission is to catalog 90% of asteroids with diameters larger than 140 metres (460 ft), though they also plan to map smaller asteroids as well. December 2016 is the advertised launch date, with initiation of data transfer for on-Earth processing of data anticipated no later than 6 months afterwards.
- Spaceguard Foundation
- Asteroid impact avoidance
- 99942 Apophis
- Planetary Resources
- Deep Space Industries
- "PROJECT B612: Deflecting an Asteroid using Nuclear-Powered Plasma Drive Propulsion (home page)". Project B612 (now B612 Foundation). November 26, 2002. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
- "Foundation History". B612 Foundation. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
- Atkinson, Nancy (October 14, 2010). "Is the World Ready for An Asteroid Threat? Apollo’s Schweickart Pushes for Action". Universe Today. The Universe Today Team. Retrieved before April 15, 2012.
- "The Foundation". B612 Foundation. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
- Norris, Guy (2013-04-09). "Ball Aerospace Ramps Up Sentinel Asteroid Search Mission". Aviation Week & Space Technology. Retrieved 2013-04-11.
- Greenfieldboyce, Nell (November 10, 2005). "Nudging Killer Asteroids Off Course". National Public Radio. Retrieved August 26, 2010.
- Mone, Gregory (January 1, 2006). "Rear-ending Rocks in Space". Popular Science. Bonnier Group. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
- Cooke, William (15 February 2013). "Orbit of the Russian Meteor". NASA blogs. Retrieved 17 February 2013.
- Fountain, Henry (2013-03-25). "A Clearer View of the Space Bullet That Grazed Russia". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-03-27.
- "The Sentinel Mission". B612 Foundation. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
- Official website
- The Asteroid Tugboat: to prevent an asteroid from hitting Earth, a space tug equipped with plasma engines could give it a push, 13 October 2003, Scientific American, by Schweickart, Lu, Hut and Chapman.