On Wednesday, world-renowned scientists, headed by astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, announced plans for the $100 million dollar project Breakthrough Starshot, which aims to develop minute probing technology the size of a microchip that can be sent to space via laser.
According to a report from the Popular Science, the tiny probe chip has the potential of exploring Alpha Centauri, which is by far the closest star system to our solar system, then send back information about possible existence of other life form.
Although the project’s main objective is to know the possibility of sending the microchip-sized probing device beyond our current reach, the project opens a lot of possibility in the field of astronomy and in the study of the solar system.
If the project yields positive results, it would only take 20 years before the probe reaches Alpha Centauri, which is 4.7 light years away from Earth. Currently, estimates show that it would take 30 years before a probing device reaches the Alpha Centauri from Earth.
On Alien Life
Hawking believes there’s a slim chance intelligent life exist outside Earth. But this does not mean it’s totally impossible, he said. Hawking added that although the possibility is low, it’s still possible.
“The probability is low…probably. But the discoveries of the Kepler mission suggest that there are millions of habitable planets in our galaxy alone. And there are at least 100 billion galaxies in the visible universe. So it seems likely that there are others out there” Hawking was quoted as saying by Popular Science.
New Heights in Space Exploration
Hawking’s starship was seen to change the world’s space exploration and possibly, the search for alien life. Without Hawking’s technology, exploring possible life forms outside our known solar system is almost impossible, expensive, and cumbersome. But that’s about to change with this technology, Gizmodo reported.