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How Shooting For Alpha Centauri Will Change The World

5 Jan 2018, 15:01 UTC
How Shooting For Alpha Centauri Will Change The World
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The stars Alpha Centauri (upper left) including A and B, are part of the same trinary star system as Proxima Centauri (circled). Beta Centauri, the other bright star in this photo, is much larger and farther away. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons user Skatebiker.Aiming for the nearest star would necessitate a whole slew of advances. Even if the mission fails, humanity wins by investing in itself.There have been some magnificent moments in NASA history, as well as some goals we’ve aspired to but haven’t yet realized. We’ve sent humans to the Moon, installing devices there and retrieving samples for the return home. We’ve sent probes to every planet in the Solar System, and to many asteroids, comets, and moons as well. We’ve even launched a few of them out of the Solar System, with more to follow. We’ve learned how to hunt for alien worlds, and our great observatories have helped us photograph and understand the Universe as never before. And our next great step, as a NASA team revealed at this month’s American Geophysical Union meeting, could be to travel to Alpha Centauri: another star. If we go for it, here’s how this project will change the world.An artist’s rendition ...

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