'Project Blue' Aims To Find Planets Around The Nearest Sun-Like Stars (Synopsis)

"Resources exist to be consumed. And consumed they will be, if not by  this generation then by some future. By what right does this forgotten  future seek to deny us our birthright?" -Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri

The dream of humanity has long been to identify an inhabited world beyond Earth, to know for certain that life is not unique to our pale blue dot. If we were located a great distance away, there are observations of Earth we could make that would tell us a tremendous amount of information about our world, including about its oceans, clouds, continents, the "greening" of our world during summer, the growth and shrinkage of icecaps and even atmospheric signatures.

The two sun-like stars, Alpha Centauri A and B, are located just 4.37 light years away from us and orbit one another at between the distances of Saturn and Neptune in our own solar system. Each may house Earth-like planets. Image credit: ESA/Hubble and NASA. The two sun-like stars, Alpha Centauri A and B, are located just 4.37 light years away from us and orbit one another at between the distances of Saturn and Neptune in our own solar system. Each may house Earth-like planets. Image credit: ESA/Hubble and NASA.

So why not apply that same line of thinking to search for Earth-like worlds around other sun-like stars? While direct imaging missions that would survey large numbers of stars would be very large and very expensive, the closest two sunlike stars -- Alpha Centauri A and B -- are only 4.37 light years away, and would need merely a 45-centimeter telescope with minimal development and launch costs.

A simulation of what the next Pale Blue Dot would look like through this newly proposed telescope around Alpha Centauri A or B. Image credit: Project Blue Mission Team. A simulation of what the next Pale Blue Dot would look like through this newly proposed telescope around Alpha Centauri A or B. Image credit: Project Blue Mission Team.

Want to find a planet around the nearest sun-like stars? For under $50 million, we can do it!

More like this

"You can spend too much time wondering which of identical twins is the more alike." -Robert Brault When we think of the idea of “Earth’s twin,” we inevitably think of a planet like ours orbiting a star like ours at the same distance and speed. Most planets are not rocky and Earth-sized; most stars…
The star that is nearest our own has a planet that could be habitable by Earthlings. This is very important news. The news comes to us from this research paper in Nature: A terrestrial planet candidate in a temperate orbit around Proxima Centauri by Guillem Anglada-Escudé, Pedro J. Amado, John…
"Because practical applications are so remote, many people assume we should not be interested. But this quest to understand the world is what defines us as human beings." -Yuri Milner It’s been another big week here at Starts With A Bang, with stories covering the Universe near and far. First off, …
"I have lost tolerance for things without meaning. There is no time for them. Does that make sense?" -Sara Seager The discovery of a potentially habitable planet around the nearest star to our own -- Proxima Centauri -- has brought up the tantalizing possibility that this might be closest Earth-…

This sounds like a job for for Astro-Crowdfunding!

For the last 3 evenings on Australias ABC, Professor Brian Cox has been on a program, whilst touring Oz, called Stargazing. For the final episode last night, they announced finding another set of exoplanets, 4 planets so far, from a data set linked through the program for anyone interested to sift through that data.
For more info:-
www.abc.net.au/ourfocus/stargazing/

For the notion of 'one shot', as in there is only one reasonable target to observe given the size of the scope, how much bigger and expensive would it have to be to get useful results from 100 stars?
Or perhaps the project as proposed would get interesting results from many stars, but only planet detection from Alpha Centuari?

By MobiusKlein (not verified) on 06 Apr 2017 #permalink