Hello Again Followers,
There are so many interesting developments out there, and this is one of the more fascinating and inspirational ones.
We managed to reach sustained flight of the first aircraft just ~115 years ago (think Wright brothers). Our fist satellite went up (temporarily) in 1957. Since then, we’ve put thousands of satellites into orbit and sent probes across the solar system. Our furthest probe right now is Voyager I, which officially left the solar system in 2012.
Whilst there’s plenty to do in our solar system, we started discovering planets in other star systems back in the early-mid 90’s. Now we count known extra-solar planets in the thousands, but how can we even get there??
Enter ‘Breakthrough Starshot’, which is a well-funded initiative to launch spacecraft to our nearest neighbouring star systems. Yes, really. The plan is to create tiny spacecraft weighing just grams. They are launched into space then accelerated to 20% of the speed of light via earth-based lasers.
Assuming the tech works, we could reach Alpha Centauri and begin capturing images within 20 years from launch and we could receive the beamed images back (from another star system!) within 5 years after that. We’ve already identified a potentially habitable planet in this system – at least one that has somewhat reasonable gravity and temperature – so the opportunity is astonishing.
I just love the idea of us overcoming all obstacles and achieving what could only be dreamed of previously. Fantastic.
The video on this linked page talks about our hunt for exoplanets and, towards the end, talks briefly about the ‘Breakthrough Initiative’ that might take us to other systems.