NASA is reportedly planning something special to celebrate the one-hundredth anniversary of humanity’s first walk on the moon. The space agency announced that it is planning on conducting its first ever interstellar mission to survey the Proxima Centauri star system.
A First Look at NASA’s Interstellar Mission
Scientists from NASA took the stage at the 2017 American Geophysical Union’s Fall meeting, which took place in New Orleans. During the address, the researchers talked about the development of a new style of spacecraft that could travel a tenth of the speed of light. At this rate of speed, it would be capable of reaching Alpha Centauri in only forty-four years.
Proxima Centauri is located just shy of twenty-five trillion miles away from Earth. This makes it the closest star system to Earth. During this mission, the probe will be collecting images, atmospheric compositions, and a moon tally. It should also beam back spectral signatures from the surface, and magnetosphere characteristics.
Currently, this first interstellar mission is seen as one of the most ambitious undertakings in history. The project has yet to receive a formal name. This is because the technology that’s required for the mission is still in development. Thankfully, fifty years is a good amount of time to work out the technicalities and fine-tune the technology required for such a feat.
The mission is currently divided into six stages. The first stage consists of traveling outside the solar system. This has already been accomplished by the Voyager 1.
However, the next five stages of the mission don’t yet have the required technology that would lead to a success. These stages include surviving the journey through space and adjusting the trajectory to properly encounter the target. They also include the actual data gathering and sending this back to NASA for research purposes.
With the deadline decades away, scientists are currently looking to discover a planet in the system that’s most likely to support life. Debra Fischer, a leading expert on exoplanets, has dedicated decades searching for a planet that is the Earth’s twin.
The results and her findings were published in the Astronomical Journal. They stated that Centauri A and B are very likely to be home to Earth-sized planets.
So and researchers are working hard to discover which of these planets houses the proper recipes for a habitable planet.
For now, no one’s exactly sure where in the star system the 2069 probe is going to travel. But it is already known that it’s going to be another exciting milestone in NASA’s proud history.
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