Anthony Freeman is from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, and he just presented a very interesting mission concept at the 2017 American Geophysical Union conference.
Namely, launching a spacecraft to the relatively nearby three-star Alpha Centauri system to search an exoplanet for signs of life. But not until 2069.
“It’s very nebulous,” Freeman said.
As reported by New Scientist, we’d be looking at a 44 year long trip to reach the exoplanet – and that’s only if we can work out how to travel at a tenth of the speed of light.
But NASA has a plan. And it involves lasers. Lasers that power tiny probes, which in theory can reach a quarter of the speed of light. Nuclear reactions and collisions between antimatter and matter are also on the drawing board.
So yes, while NASA hasn’t quite figured out how, having a date is nice, right?