Science

Proxima B Flyby Mission Set In Motion; Hawking's Team Prepares Breakthrough Starshot Project

By Jiran , Aug 29, 2016 07:45 AM EDT

Stephen Hawking, the famous astrophysicist and one of the leading individuals in pursuing the search of extraterrestrial life, and Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, are collaborating on the most ambitious project in the history of space exploration to date. Dubbed "Breakthrough Starshot," the project aims to send a "nano craft" into space to study the planets in the neighboring star system.

"What makes us unique is transcending our limits. Gravity pins us to the ground, but I just flew to America. How do we transcend these limits? With our minds and our machines. The limit that confronts us now is the great void between us and the stars," Professor Hawkings said about the project. 

But now we can transcend it, with light beams, light sails, and the lightest spacecraft ever built. Today we commit to this next great leap into the cosmos because we are human and our nature is to fly." 

Breakthrough Starshot Project

The immensely ambitious venture could divulge deep enigmas of the universe and will allow scientists to learn the most probable places to hold life in other worlds.

Scientists have been working on tweaking the design of the nanoprobes to be sent into space to increase the odds for them to subsist the voyage, while studying and sending back images and other scientific data of the planet Proxima Centauri B and other celestial bodies to Earth. The mission's destination is the Alpha Centauri Star system, which is 25 trillion miles away.

According to Yuri Milner, the nanoprobes will be a "gram-scale nano craft" which will travel in space using a "sail pushed by a light beam" that will enable the crafts to fly at 25 percent of the speed of light. This will boost the specacraft's speed by aiming powerful lasers at film-thin light sails that carry the probes along, allowing the vehicle to reach its destination in just 20 years, which is far less the 30,000 years it would take a conventional spacecraft to travel the same distance.

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