Project Starshot: Visiting the Nearest Star Within Our Lifetime

source: Harvard University    2016年12月9日
The nearest star to the Sun, Proxima, was discovered this year to host an Earth mass planet in its habitable zone. Proxima is only 4.24 light years away. Can a camera fly by this planet to find out whether there is life on it? Starshot is a new project aimed to develop the technology that will enable to launch a spacecraft at a fifth of the speed of light, so that it will reach Proxima within our generation. The concept is based on a high power (100GW scale) laser beam pushing a lightweight (gram scale) sail, attached to a chip containing a miniaturized camera, communication and navigation devices. The feasibility study phase of the project had just started at a funding level of $100M for the next 5-10 years, with CfA participation.