Sutter Survey: A Space Mission Roadmap to Finding Thousands of Asteroids For Space Resource Utilization
Joel C Sercel



NASA has recently selected TransAstra Corporation and the University of Hawai`i's IfA to study a new type of low cost, high performance compound telescope, the Compound Synthetic Tracker (CST), for a series of space missions that we call the Sutter Survey. Named after the Sutter's Mill discovery which led to the California gold rush, the Sutter Survey will discover and characterize valuable resources that will lead to another gold rush; but this one in space! As depicted in the artist's concept shown below, our first operational mission concept involves a constellation of three small spacecraft in heliocentric space, each 120 degrees apart in the plane of the ecliptic, with a semi-major axis of about 0.95 AU. We estimate that this entire constellation can be built for less than $50M, launched as piggy back payloads, and perform like the billion dollar, 8 m aperture Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) ground based telescope at finding and tracking small dark asteroids. After the deployment of the initial constellation, an even more capable Sutter Extreme mission can be launched to increase the asteroid discovery rate by more than an order of magnitude. This presentation will describe Sutter Survey, Sutter Extreme, and Sutter Demo, a LEO mission we have designed to demonstrate the key breakthrough technologies.