NASA Wants To Commence An Interstellar Mission To Proxima Centauri By 2069

NASA outlined a potential interstellar mission to Proxima Centauri.

NASA hopes to have a spacecraft ready to visit Proxima Centauri by 2068.

Scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory presented a paper at the American Geophysical Union in New Orleans in which they proposed an interstellar mission to explore the Alpha Centauri system. According to the scientists, such a mission would require a spacecraft capable of reaching ten percent of light speed, something which they believe will become a reality by 2069.

Anthony Freeman, a NASA scientist at JPL, outlined the potential interstellar mission in his paper titled “The First Interstellar Explorer: What should it do when it arrives at its Destination?” He talked about mankind’s “most ambitious project”, detailing a roadmap for a 40-year duration mission to visit a potentially habitable planet orbiting one of Earth’s nearest stars,

Freeman presented six obstacles that they need to get over in order for the spacecraft to reach Alpha Centauri. One is leaving the solar system, something which we have achieved with Voyager 1. The other five, however, are still giving NASA trouble partly because the technology does not exist yet. These include surviving the trek to Proxima Centauri, slowing down on approach, adjusting the trajectory for a close encounter, being able to collect data, and transmitting said data back to Earth. Currently, all these aspects are beyond our technological capabilities.

The JPL scientists addressed three of the six phases, including if the spacecraft will orbit the planet or fly past it and how the information will be collected.

Proxima Centauri is a low mass red dwarf and is the smallest of the three stars in the Alpha Centauri system. The two primary stars are Alpha Centauri A and Alpha Centauri B. Researchers discovered in 2016 that Proxima Centauri had an exoplanet orbiting around it at a distance of four million kilometers. The Alpha Centauri System is four light years away, one of the closest stars to our solar system.

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