NASA is planning an interstellar mission to search for extraterrestrial life outside our solar system. The space agency will explore the three-star Alpha Centauri system.
Reports claim it will be an unmanned mission which is yet to be named. The technology needed to build a craft that can search for life outside our solar system in the three-star Alpha Centauri system is yet to be developed.
The launch date of the mission is predicted to coincide with the first moon landing's 100th anniversary. The spacecraft needed for the mission should travel at a minimum pace of 10 percent of light's speed.
The Alpha Centauri constellation is situated at a distance of 4.4 light years away. Even if scientists create a craft that can travel at a 10th of the speed of light, it would take a 44-year trip for the craft to reach our nearest celestial neighbour — by 2113.
"It's very nebulous," Anthony Freeman, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), was quoted by the New Scientist as saying.
The space agency is planning to send small laser-powered probes that are likely to reach a quarter the speed of light in theory.
"Other techniques under consideration include harnessing nuclear reactions, or through collisions between antimatter and matter," Independent reported.
A known exoplanet — Proxima Centauri b — in the Alpha Centauri system orbits a red dwarf star. But the exoplanet is in inhospitable conditions because of the radiations its parent star exposes it to, which lowers the chances of discovering alien life.
Launched in 1977, the Voyager 1 craft is the only spacecraft which has left our solar system successfully. It provided amazing new insights into planets and moons that exist in our solar system, despite the limitations of the technology it was armed with. Voyager 1 was not crafted to be an interstellar vessel.
It is currently situated 11.7 billion miles from Earth and is trundling along at a speed of 61,000 kmph (38,000 mph), which is about 0.0056 percent of light's speed.