Technology Science.-The bold plan to see continents and oceans in...

Science.-The bold plan to see continents and oceans in another land


A new astronomical project proposes using a fleet of solar-powered spacecraft to fly faster and farther from Earth than any previous probe, turn around and use the Sun’s gravity as a giant magnifying glass. If it works, we will capture an image of an exoplanet so sharp that we can see features only 10 kilometers wide.

Called SGL (Solar Gravity Lens), the project is attended by NASA and a collection of universities, aerospace companies and other organizations, as well as Planetary Society co-founder Lou Friedman, considered the original guru of solar sailing. .

“I’m always excited about trying to make something happen that can’t happen any other way,” Friedman, a consultant to the SGL project who led a NASA effort in the 1970s to send a spacecraft from the SGL, said in a statement. solar sail to Halley’s Comet. “The reason we started with solar navigation at the Planetary Society was because it allowed us to take the first steps toward interstellar exploration. Our LightSail worked very well, and its success gives confidence and credibility to the idea of ​​navigating through the system. solar “.

The plan has many obstacles, but the payoff would be incredible, said Slava Turyshev, a physicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who is spearheading the project.

“Within our solar neighborhood, which we classify within 100 light years, we have identified several exoplanets that may be in the habitable zone of their star,” Turyshev said, referring to the region around it that is not too hot or too cold and could liquid water exist. “And now we have the question, what would we do if we found something to indicate the presence of life on an exoplanet? Could we travel there, or at least see it?



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