Mark Zuckerberg is best known for doing things that no one thought of doing before. Well, Facebook’s founder-CEO has just joined the growing list of businessman taking an interest in space exploration. However, true to his habit of doing things that are completely out of the box, Zuckerberg is participating in an initiative that is looking at a radically new way of space exploration.
Yes sir, the Facebook Founder-CEO has recently announced his intention of teaming up with Stephen Hawking and Yuri Milner, in project “Breakthrough”, to take space exploration to new heights.
I’m proud to join Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking for a new space initiative to go beyond our nearby planets to explore other stars for the first time in human history.
Space is vast and mostly empty. In fact, space is so empty that even travelling at the speed of light, you hardly get to parties even in the next star system, on time. And when you are talking spaceships that travel at a few thousand kmph at the most, well, you are hardly going to get anywhere at all.
That’s why Breakthrough’s idea of shrinking the size of the spaceships — a trade off of size for greater speeds — is really catching public attention these days. The basic idea here is to create nanocrafts that can be accelerated to somewhere in the vicinity of the speed of light.
According to a post on Facebook Newswire,
The new idea here is that instead of using large spacecraft burning fuel like people have in all traditional space travel, we’re going to create a fleet of tiny spacecraft — or nanocraft — that we can accelerate to 20% of the speed of light using an array of laser beams from our planet’s surface. At that speed of 100 million miles per hour, it will only take 20 years to reach Alpha Centauri.
While even with the fastest technology available to us today, it will take almost 30,000 years to get there. So yeah, there is the reason why huge investments are being poured into project breakthrough.
The project is important because it will let humans explore at least their immediate neighbourhoods and while we wont be able to go there in person, the information relayed back to us — perhaps in the form of pictures and other data — will let us decide whether the planet under consideration is habitable or not.
Speaking on the topic, Stephen Hawking, widely regarded as one of the greatest brains alive, said,
Within the next generation, Breakthrough Starshot aims to develop a ‘nanocraft’ – a gram-scale robotic space probe – and use a light beam to push it to 20 percent of the speed of light. If we are successful, a flyby mission could reach Alpha Centauri about 20 years after launch, and send back images of any planets discovered in the system.
Well, space has been one of the greatest enigmas and the Breakthrough initiative hopefully, will help open up more of its unexplored avenues.