The Sentinel Mission's Partner in Asteroid Detection: Ball Aerospace


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“Ball was our first and only choice as the major contractor for the Sentinel Mission. The company is a pioneer in space observatories with a track record of excellence spanning more than 55 years. We are thrilled to have them as our partner.”

Ed Lu

CEO and Co-founder, Sentinel Mission

The Sentinel Mission is working with Ball Aerospace to design and build the Sentinel Space Telescope, a space-based infrared telescope with a 20-inch diameter aperture.

Ball was NASA’s industrial partner for both the Kepler and Spitzer Space Telescope missions. These missions relied on high-heritage, flight-proven deep space systems, originally developed by NASA, to minimize technical and programmatic risks. Ball Aerospace was the mission prime contractor for Kepler, which has discovered more than 150 planets outside of our solar system; the company was responsible for the photometer, spacecraft, and system integration and testing for the NASA Ames Research Center and Jet Propulsion Laboratory-led Discovery Class mission. For Spitzer, Ball provided the Cryogenic Telescope Assembly and two of the three science instruments: the Infrared Spectrograph and the Multiband Imaging Photometer.

Learn more about the impressive missions and instruments in which Ball Aerospace has played a key role by clicking on the list below. We are proud that our Sentinel  Space Telescope will join the ranks of these important space-faring instruments.



Image courtesy of Ball Aerospace.

The first privately funded deep space mission, Sentinel is expected to catalog 90 percent of the asteroids larger than 140 meters in Earth’s region of the solar system.  Sentinel will leverage leverages Ball’s extensive spacecraft and instrument history.



Image courtesy of Ball Aerospace.

Does life exist beyond our planet?

The Kepler spacecraft built by Ball Aerospace for NASA has returned nearly four years of data about exoplanets and the possibility of Earth-size planets in the habitable zone around stars in other planetary systems.

The Sentinel spacecraft Ball is now designing for B612 will use a similar design as the Kepler spacecraft.

James Webb Space Telescope


Image courtesy of Ball Aerospace.

Continuing on the success of the Hubble, Ball Aerospace is developing the optical segment of the James Webb Space Telescope.  James Webb is the first optical system expected to study objects 400 times fainter than any current telescope. Like so many of Ball’s spacecraft and instruments, James Webb will continue to change the way we view the world and universe.

Widefield Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE)


Image courtesy of Ball Aerospace.

Did you know the Ball-built WISE spacecraft has examined more the 500 Near-Earth objects, including the first “Trojan” asteroid to share the same orbital path around the sun as the Earth?  The WISE spacecraft bus carries an infrared-sensitive telescope that imaged the entire sky.



Image courtesy of Ball Aerospace.

Did you know the New Horizons spacecraft is on its way to Pluto right now?  Ball Aerospace built a camera called Ralph aboard New Horizons that is expected to provide high-resolution images of Pluto when it arrives in 2015.

Spitzer Space Telescope


Image courtesy of Ball Aerospace.

Ball Aerospace systems helped enable NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope to be the first to discover light from exoplanets. Prior to the Spitzer infrared observatory, conclusions about exoplanets had been made indirectly by behaviors of orbiting stars around planets. The space thermal-management system Ball Aerospace developed for Spitzer will be integral to the Sentinel design.

Hubble Space Telescope


Image courtesy of NASA.

Ball Aerospace has played a major role in the success of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, which continues to revolutionize our understanding of the universe. All of the instruments currently on board Hubble are Ball Aerospace-built, and the company even developed the “eyeglasses” for the telescope after it launched with blurry vision in 1990.

Space-Based Space Surveillance (SBSS)


Image courtesy of Ball Aerospace.

Worried about hazardous objects in space?  The Ball-built SBSS satellite has you covered as it tracks Near Earth Objects (NEOs) in space.

Deep Impact

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Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/UMD.

On July 4, 2005, the impactor aboard a dual-part satellite built by Ball Aerospace separated from the spacecraft to place itself in the path of a comet, producing a crater that was studied for its content, as part of NASA’s Deep Impact mission. Scientists discovered this comet was dustier and contained less ice than expected.  The flyby spacecraft survived the encounter and was renamed EPOXI by NASA. It is still operating in deep space seven years after the Deep Impact collision.



Image courtesy of Ball Aerospace.

Has an asteroid hit the Earth or is it simply a human creation?  The Ball-built WorldView-3 spacecraft, slated to launch next year, is able to see in both the visible and infrared spectrum allowing analysts to identify manmade and natural materials from space.


Bangkok, Thailand

Image courtesy of Digital Globe.

Launched October 2009, DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-2 satellite built by Ball Aerospace is the first high-resolution 8-band multispectral commercial satellite.  WorldView imagery is used for land-use planning, disaster relief, and navigation technology such as Google Maps.  You’ve probably seen WorldView  images on the nightly news without even realizing it!


Image courtesy of Ball Aerospace.

Orbital Express


Image courtesy of Boeing.

Did you know that in 2007 the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) had a mission that used a Ball Aerospace spacecraft to demonstrate the ability to service satellites in space without an astronaut? Two satellites (one built by Ball) demonstrated techniques for on-orbit refueling, reconfiguration and repair of spacecraft on-orbit.  The ability to service a spacecraft in space without an astronaut provides a cost-effective solution for longer mission durations.

HiRISE/Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

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Image of Victoria Crater, courtesy of NASA/JPL/University of Arizona.

Ball Aerospace’s HiRISE camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance orbiter is capturing the highest-resolution images ever taken from space of the surface of Mars.  Its images have included a couple of asteroid impacts on Mars too.  The HiRISE telescope has almost the same aperture as the future Sentinel.


Image courtesy of Ball Aerospace.

Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS-1)

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Image courtesy of Ball Aerospace.

Packing for a trip to an asteroid impact site?  The Ball-built JPSS-1 satellite will tell you what to bring.  This satellite observes weather patterns as they develop from space. The JPSS mission will provide essential data for civil and military weather-forecasting, storm tracking, and climate-monitoring.

Suomi National Polar-observing Partnership (Suomi NPP)


In addition to the asteroid showers from space, there are severe weather storms on Earth.  The Ball-built Suomi NPP spacecraft circles the globe to track from space possible hurricanes and other severe weather storms as they form.

Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS)


Image courtesy of Ball Aerospace.

Did you know Ball Aerospace developed the first instrument to provide all-sky imaging of the universe in the infrared from space?  The Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) was the first space-based, long-life, cryogenically cooled infrared telescope. Ball Aerospace built the IRAS instrument which contained superfluid helium to cool an infrared sensor to nearly 450 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit).


Image courtesy of Ball Aerospace.

Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE)


Image courtesy of Ball Aerospace.

Ball Aerospace built the superfluid helium dewar that cooled two of three instruments aboard the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE). This mission confirmed the Big Bang theory of the universe and deepened our understanding of the origin of galaxies and stars. The scientists who led the COBE program were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2006.

Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet Radiometer-2 (SBUV-2)

Have you heard about the ozone hole above Antarctica?  Of course you have!  But what you probably didn’t know is that Ball Aerospace built the Solar Backscatter Ultraviolet Radiometer-2 (SBUV-2) that helped discover the ozone hole.  The company built nine SBUV-2s between 1984 and 2002.

Orbiting Solar Observatory 1-7 (OSO)


Image courtesy of Ball Aerospace.

From 1962 to 1971, Ball Aerospace developed and launched seven OSO spacecraft for NASA.  These spacecraft enhanced our understanding of the periodic changes in the sun’s activity and set the stage for Ball Aerospace to be a space system provider for the Nation.


Image courtesy of Ball Aerospace.

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