Tech

Nasa planning mission to Alpha Centauri – will it find aliens in the nearest star system to Planet Earth?

jasper hamill

Nasa planning to search for aliens in Alpha Centauri - the nearest star system to Earth
A planet orbiting Alpha Centauri would have two or even three suns, because the star system is made up of a trio of stars (Image: Michael S. Helfenbein)

Nasa is preparing to launch a mission which could answer the question of whether humanity is alone in the universe.

The space agency has begun planning for a mission to humanity’s nearest star system: Alpha Centauri.

Recent research suggests there are several planets in this system and some of them could have the right conditions to support life.

It’s hoped that a probe will be sent to Alpha Centauri in 2069, which probably means few people alive today will be around to see the results.

Nasa planning to search for aliens in Alpha Centauri - the nearest star system to Earth
An artist’s illustration of a ‘light sail’ spaceship (Picture: Breakthrough Initiatives)
Nasa planning to search for aliens in Alpha Centauri - the nearest star system to Earth
The Paranal Observatory in Chile, which houses the European Southern Observatory’s ‘Very Large Telescope (Picture: ESO)

However, there’s one major problem.

Using current technology, it would take 30,000 years to travel the 25 trillion miles (4.37 light years) to Alpha Centauri.

Nasa hopes it will be able to build spacecraft which travel at one-tenth of the speed of light, meaning a probe could journey to the star system in about 44 years.

Once the probe is there, it will scan the planets to see if they are home to alien organisms or capable of supporting life.

‘We’ll be able to characterise the atmosphere. We’ll be able to see the planet, assuming it’s not covered in clouds,’ JPL’s Stacy Weinstein-Weiss, lead author of a paper outlining the concept, told New Scientist.

Nasa planning to search for aliens in Alpha Centauri - the nearest star system to Earth
This chart shows the stars visible in the night sky, with Alpha Centauri circled in red (Picture: Nasa)

Although the plan is only ‘nebulous’ at this stage, Nasa has outlined the goals of the mission which means it is in the very early stages of planning.

The mission will not be manned and will have to use some new kind of spaceship, such as a ‘light sail‘ which is propelled forward using the radiation produced by the sun and could reach the very high speeds required to get to another star system.

Alpha Centauri is made up of three stars. Alpha Centauri A and B are both bright, whilst Alpha Centauri C (which is also known as Proxima Centauri) is a dimmer red dwarf.

More: UK

Original Article

The post Nasa planning mission to Alpha Centauri – will it find aliens in the nearest star system to Planet Earth? appeared first on News Wire Now.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.