The Breakthrough Foundation’s Starshot Project Revealed To SHSSP19

The final event in the public lecture series of ISU’s and UniSA’s Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program SHSSP19 was delivered by Brigadier General Sir Pete Worden (USAF Ret.) of the Breakthrough Foundation. His marquee project, Starshot, was revealed to an excited audience.

The project proposes to use an array of lasers to accelerate lightsails attached to coin sized satellites up to 20 percent the speed of light. These “StarChips” will be shot towards proxima-centauri in the hope of returning the first data from planets of another solar system. He suggested that Australia, due to its view of the Centaurus constellation in the night sky, could be a suitable candidate for the location of the laser array.

At the Royal Society in London on July 20, 2015, Yuri Milner, Stephen Hawking and Lord Martin Rees announced a set of initiatives — a scientific programme aimed at finding evidence of technological life beyond Earth entitled ‘Breakthrough Listen', and a contest to devise potential messages named 'Breakthrough Message’. In addition, atop the One World Trade Center in New York on April 20, 2016, 'Breakthrough Starshot' was announced, an interstellar programme to Alpha Centauri. These are the first of several privately-funded global initiatives to answer the fundamental science questions surrounding the origin, extent and nature of life in the universe. The Breakthrough Initiatives are managed by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation.

Read more about Week 4 at SHSSP19!

Photo Credits: ISU and UniSA