Breakthrough Initiatives

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Breakthrough Initiatives is a program founded in 2015 and funded by Yuri Milner to search for extraterrestrial intelligence over a span of at least 10 years. The program is divided into multiple projects. Breakthrough Listen will comprise an effort to search over 1,000,000 stars for artificial radio or laser signals. A parallel project called Breakthrough Message is an effort to create a message "representative of humanity and planet Earth".[1] The project Breakthrough Starshot aims to send a swarm of probes to the nearest star at about 20% the speed of light.

History

The Breakthrough Initiatives were announced to the public on July 20, 2015 at London's Royal Society. Physicist Stephen Hawking, Russian tycoon Yuri Milner, and others created the Initiatives to search for intelligent extraterrestrial life in the Universe and consider a plan for possibly transmitting messages out into space.[2][3] The announcement included an open letter co-signed by multiple scientists, including Hawking, expressing support for an intensified search for alien radio communications. During the public launch, Hawking said: "In an infinite Universe, there must be other life. There is no bigger question. It is time to commit to finding the answer."[4][5]

The US$100 million cash infusion is projected to markedly up the pace of SETI research over the early 2000s rate, and will nearly double the rate NASA was spending on SETI research annually in approximately 1973–1993.[3]

Projects

Breakthrough Listen

Breakthrough Listen is a ten-year initiative with $100 million funding begun in July 2015 to actively search for intelligent extraterrestrial communications in the Universe, in a substantially expanded way, using resources that had not previously been extensively used for the purpose.[2][4][6] It has been described as the most comprehensive search for alien communications to date.[4]

Announced in July 2015, the project will use thousands of hours every year on two major radiotelescopes, the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia and the Parkes Observatory in Australia.[7] Previously, only about 24 to 36 hours of telescope per year was used in the search for alien life.[4] Furthermore, the Automated Planet Finder of Lick observatory will search for optical signals coming from laser transmissions. For processing of the massive data, the experience of SETI and SETI@home will be used.[7] SETI founder Frank Drake is one of the project's scientists.[2][4]

Breakthrough Message

The Breakthrough Message program is to study the ethics of sending messages into deep space.[8] It also launched an open competition with a US$1 million prize pool, to design a digital message that could be transmitted from Earth to an extraterrestrial civilization. The message should be "representative of humanity and planet Earth". The program pledges "not to transmit any message until there has been a global debate at high levels of science and politics on the risks and rewards of contacting advanced civilizations".[9]

Breakthrough Starshot

Announced April 12, 2016, Breakthrough Starshot is a US$100 million program to develop a proof-of-concept light sail spacecraft fleet capable of making the journey to Alpha Centauri at 20% the speed of light (60 million m/s or 215 million km/h) taking about 20 years to get there, and about 4 years to notify Earth of a successful arrival.[10][11][12]

If an Earth-size planet is orbiting the Alpha Centauri system, Breakthrough Starshot will try to aim its crafts within 1 Astronomical Unit (150 million kilometers or 93 million miles) of it. From this distance, its four cameras could potentially capture an image of high enough quality to resolve surface features.[13] The spacecraft fleet would have 1000 crafts, and each craft, named StarChip,[14] would be a very small centimeter-sized craft weighing several grams.[14] They would be propelled by several ground-based lasers of up to 100 gigawatts.[15] Each tiny spacecraft would transmit data back to Earth using a compact on-board laser communications system.[15] Pete Worden is the head of this project.

See also

References

  1. Lendino, Jamie (20 July 2015). "Stephen Hawking, Milner unveil $100M initiative to 'dramatically accelerate' search for alien life". ExtremeTech. Retrieved 20 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Feltman, Rachel (20 July 2015). "Stephen Hawking announces $100 million hunt for alien life". Washington Post. Retrieved 20 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 Billings, Lee (20 July 2015). "Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Nets Historic Cash Infusion". Scientific American. Retrieved 21 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Merali, Zeeya (20 July 2015). "Search for extraterrestrial intelligence gets a $100-million boost. Russian billionaire Yuri Milner announces most comprehensive hunt for alien life". Nature News. Retrieved 20 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Vella, Matt (21 July 2015). "Read the Inspiring 'Questions of Existence' Letter from the World's Greatest Thinkers". Time. Retrieved 21 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Rundle, Michael (20 July 2015). "$100m Breakthrough Listen is 'largest ever' search for alien civilisations". Wired. Retrieved 20 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 Sample, Ian (20 July 2015). "Anybody out there? $100m radio wave project to scan far regions for alien life". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Rundle, Michael (20 July 2015). "$100m Breakthrough Listen is 'largest ever' search for alien civilisations". Wired. UK. Retrieved 29 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Breakthrough Initiatives". www.breakthroughinitiatives.org. Retrieved 24 July 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Overbye, Dennis (12 April 2016). "A Visionary Project Aims for Alpha Centauri, a Star 4.37 Light-Years Away". New York Times. Retrieved 12 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Stone, Maddie (April 12, 2016). "Stephen Hawking and a Russian Billionaire Want to Build an Interstellar Starship". Gizmodo. Retrieved 12 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Breakthrough Starshot". Breakthrough Initiatives. 12 April 2016. Retrieved 12 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Starshot - Target
  14. 14.0 14.1 Gilster, Paul (12 April 2016). "Breakthrough Starshot: Mission to Alpha Centauri". Centauri Dreams. Retrieved 14 April 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. 15.0 15.1 Starshot - Concept.

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