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Starshot: Stephen Hawking's Ambitious Alpha Centauri Project - Where is it Now?

Dec 25, 2016 12:02 PM EST
Starshot: Stephen Hawking's Ambitious Alpha Centauri Project - Where is it Now?
World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has just announced quite the ambitious mission to visit our nearest star system and find out if life truly exists outside the planet.
(Photo : Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize Foundation)

World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has just announced quite the ambitious mission to visit our nearest star system and find out if life truly exists outside the planet.

Despite being visible in the night sky without a telescope, Alpha Centauri remains to be 25-trillion miles away. It would take around 30,000 years to reach it with current technology.

However, Hawking has just joined forces with Russian billionaire Yuri Milner and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg to develop technology that could cut this timeframe. According to Tech Times, now they want to make a spacecraft that could reach the star system in just 20 years.

Once there, a proble would sweep past its planets to see if there are signs of alien civilizations lurking around the corner.

There have been Earth-like planets already detected around three stars of Alpha Centauri. 

For instance last 2012, according to Tech Times, a planet of a similar size to Earth was spotted orbiting Alpha Centauri B. It's too hot for life, but it's likely that there are planets nearby that may be cool enough for water and life. 

The scientists are hopeful that some of them may be in the Goldilocks Zone, an area where it's neither too hot nor too cold for life to thrive.

According to Tech Times, the initial phase of the Starshot mission costs $100-million, and was announced at the One World Observatory in New York City.

Hawking said this mission is revolutionary as it highlights man's achievements and uniqueness, in which to transcend our limits. Planes allow us to fly despite gravity, and technology allowed him to speak despite losing his voice.

The mission relies on building the lightest spacecraft ever flown, which is a tiny nanocraft weighing less than a gram and would be lifted with a small sail.

There are huge laser beams that will be fired into space, coming together to form a 100-gigawatt beam of light that will blast the tiny craft off the solar system.

Although Voyager One is already outside the Solar System, it's currently still in interstellar space and hasn't reached any nearby systems.

The laser beamed will be so bright it will be visible throughout the Universe. Hopefully it could be seen by other intelligent life. Starshot would hopefully answer the question of whether or not we are alone. 

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