Starshot - Interstellar exploration

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Sonic#
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Starshot - Interstellar exploration

Post by Sonic# » Tue Apr 12, 13:20 2016

Today a $100 million project was proposed for developing small chip probes that would be propelled by a huge laser to Alpha Centauri to investigate possible exoplanets.

Here's their official site.

Some highlights:
These would be tiny. A gram-sized chip or wafer would be propelled by a lightsail.
There would be a lot of them. Why send one when you can send a hundred?
The chips would be propelled to a fifth of the speed of light.
The laser required to do so would fire for 10 minutes and use several gigawatts of power. We just have to set aside some kilometers of ground to build the array.
No braking! The chips would reach Alpha Centauri at .2 C and have to take images quickly. For reference, these ships will be moving the distance between Earth and the sun (1 AU) in about 2500 seconds - almost 42 minutes.
One idea is to transform the sail into a focusing lens on arrival to Alpha Centauri, allowing the chip to communicate back to Earth. At that point, it will take us five years to know whether it successfully did so.
While the board for the larger group Breakthrough Initiatives is all men, the leaders for project Starshot are at least a bit more diverse.

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Re: Starshot - Interstellar exploration

Post by rowan » Tue Apr 12, 17:21 2016

Ah is that what Sarcastic Rover was tweeting about yesterday...
spacefem wrote:All your logical argue are belong to us!

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Re: Starshot - Interstellar exploration

Post by Nachos » Wed Apr 13, 15:29 2016

This does look pretty cool. The sails remind me a bit of Alastair Reynolds stories.
Ugh, I'm tired of my signature.

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Re: Starshot - Interstellar exploration

Post by Aum » Thu Apr 14, 9:07 2016

Forgive my ignorance but why can't we use this method for rapidly exploring our solar system? There's so much here that we don't know yet, like what's going on with the Kuiper belt objects? Is there a planet X out there displacing them?

I find our outer solar system much more tantalizing than Alpha Centauri but that's just me.
The artist's job is not to succumb to despair, but to find an antidote to the emptiness of existence. -W.A.

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Re: Starshot - Interstellar exploration

Post by Sonic# » Thu Apr 14, 11:36 2016

^ We can! One of the added benefits of building this infrastructure is that we could reach parts of our own solar system with these wafer probes in a very short time.

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Re: Starshot - Interstellar exploration

Post by Nerd1987 » Sun Apr 17, 13:17 2016

Yeah maybe they have the financing for the goal of interstellar but then I read these things will be very inexpensive!

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