The North American Space Agency is teaming up with prodigious think-tank Stephen Hawking in an attempt to send light-weight silicone probe to nearby and presumably habitable star system, Alpha Centauri.
NASA believes that it’s one step closer to colonizing other planets. Recently, the space agency announced that with the help of Stephen Hawking, Mark Zuckerberg, and Yuri Milner, a venture capitalist from Russia, it would construct and launch a light-weight probe made out of silicone to the nearest Alpha Centauri system.
The silicone probe will feature an advanced propulsion system which employ high-intensity laser beams. Should the project be successfully developed, the advanced engine will propel the probe to Alpha Centauri at one-fifth the speed of light.
The space agency declared that, at the moment, this is the closest we’ll get to perfecting the warp factor engine – the propulsion system which can, theoretically, exceed the speed of light.
Should the project be successful, the tiny probe will be capable of traveling 10,000 faster than any spacecraft in commission.
However, NASA said that there would be a lot of challenges ahead. The first order of business, according to the space agency, is to figure out a way to protect the probe from space radiation. While a regular spacecraft can withstand almost any type of space radiation thanks to its radiation shielding, the silicone probe is way too small to support them.
But the joint team isn’t giving up just yet. NASA declared that the new self-healing transistors might be the key to protecting the probe from radiation. Dubbed self-healing components, these transistors can be used to store information just like a regular flash drive.
However, there are still more issues to be solved. For instance, even if the probe is traveling at one-fifth the speed of light, it will take need approximately 20 years to reach Alpha Centauri, and even then there are no guarantees that things will go smoothly.
The project is called Starshot, and, as we’ve mentioned before, it banded together some of the greatest minds of our planet. But the team is confident that the project will succeed, even though the cost of Starshot exceeds $100 million.
When the probe is sent to Alpha Centauri, it will probably become the advent of a new era of space exploration.
Image source: Wikipedia