National Aeronautics Space Administration is planning to cast out its first-ever interstellar mission.
The space agency wants to deploy a probe to an exoplanet to mark the 100th anniversary of Apollo 11.
However, a brand new means of propulsion — and other advanced technologies — will be necessary if this project is to come to pass.
According to Futurism report, the foremost space agency is now in the earliest stages of planning an exoplanet expedition, set to mark the 100th anniversary of its first crewed Moon landing, Apollo 11.
A small team based at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) hopes to send a spacecraft to a distant planet in search of life.
In 2016, a funding bill was passed that called upon NASA to investigate methods of interstellar travel that could reach at least 10 percent of the speed of light by 2069.
It also requested a mission to Alpha Centauri, the closest star system to our own.
The space exploration is set to be sent to the chosen exoplanet to determine whether or not life is present. A few years after its launch, NASA will send a large telescope into deep space, which will use gravitational lensing to offer a full view of the exoplanet.
A of writing, the debate as to whether Alpha Centauri or another system will be selected, as there are several candidates being considered.
But the main thing is that big questions to be answered before this mission becomes a reality.
The basic concept for the 2069 exoplanet expedition was presented by JPL’s Anthony Freeman at the 2017 American Geophysical Union conference.
Freeman later described its current status as “nebulous” in an interview with New Scientist.
“We don’t know whether the mission objectives will be stable,” Freeman told Futurism via email. “We would find out a lot while the spacecraft is en route, which will change the questions that we need to answer before it arrives at its destination. All this makes it hard to pin down exactly what the mission concept should look like – hence my comment that it is nebulous,” he said.
Freeman lists optical communication, reconfigurable spacecraft, compact space-qualified 3D printing capabilities, genomic programming, and artificial intelligence as some of prerequisites for the 2069 mission. A journey to an exoplanet is certainly ambitious, and the amount of research and development required to facilitate such a voyage reflects that.