For long, going to space or voyages of the spacecraft was just a myth. But with the advancement of technology, researchers along with the astronauts have made the project a successful one and since then, the space voyages have helped us discover numerous facts and data. Well, now its time for something unbelievable- THE INTERSTELLAR JOURNEY.
We have all seen the Interstellar movie, and have always thought whether going to another solar system is possible. The Breakthrough Starshot project seems to make it near possible with its prospects. Started in April 2016, Breakthrough Starshot by capitalist Yuri Milner and esteemed cosmologist Stephen Hawking is a $100 million research and engineering program. It aims to demonstrate proof of concept for light-propelled spacecraft that could fly at 20 percent of light speed.
The journey mentioned is planned to send probes to Alpha Centauri, the star system closest to the Solar System, being 4.37 light-years from the Sun. There the probe will read data from PROXIMA CENTAURI, the closest star to our galaxy. The probe will also study the nature of Proxima B, which is assumed to be having a near-habitat condition. Now the question is how can the journey be successful when it’s a matter of such a long distance of 4.3 Light Years?
Sprites, the world’s smallest fully functional space probes, built on a single circuit board achieving low Earth orbit, were transported into space as secondary payloads on OHB System AG’s ‘Max Valier’ and ‘Venta’ satellites. The 3.5cm X 3.5cm chips weigh a mere 4g and contain solar panels, computers, sensors, and radios. The project is based on untested new technologies- Light sails will be used to take it further. Just as in the sea, wind helps to move the sailboats, here a wave of laser beams will be directed towards the light-sail of the probe which will drive forward. The thinnest of Graphene made sail, one molecule thick will be ideal for the journey and since the material is Graphene, scientists are both interested and risking the journey.
The Sprites, which were built by researchers at Cornell University, were launched June 23 aboard an Indian rocket and have been in radio communication with ground stations in California and New York since then, Breakthrough Starshot said in a July 26 news release. They cost only about $25 apiece to make and a few hundred dollars to launch, according to Dr. Zachary Manchester, a postdoctoral fellow in computer science at Harvard University and an advisor to Breakthrough Starshot.
Their trivial cost “will let us launch hundreds or even thousands of them in formations or ‘swarms’ to collect measurements in places we can’t send large, expensive spacecraft,” Manchester told MACH in an email. “For example, they could enter a planet’s atmosphere to directly sample it.”
The journey of the Sprite will not be that easy. But the thing is if the journey gives some amazing reports, maybe in future, we can see an interstellar journey for more probes. The project is still not scheduled to launch but soon we are going to experience something outta this world!!
Stay tuned for update folks!