It is likely that Stephen Hawking's plan to send a spacecraft to Alpha Centauri will come to fruition. As of late, the popular physicist will be collaborating with NASA to propel a nano-vessel that will travel at one-fifth the speed of light.
Last April, during the 55th anniversary of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's trip that made him the first man in space, the program named 'StarChip' has been declared as a vital segment of the Breakthrough Starshot project. Noted sponsors include Russian billionaire Yuri Milner and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
The group is currently searching for answers that will sustain the capability of the spacecraft to reach the targeted star. Considering the harsh interstellar radiation, the main concern is how to complete the proposed 20-year journey to the closest star system from planet Earth.
Studies have shown that silicon chips can be the piece that will solve the puzzle. It is perceived that this kind of material will withstand the extreme radioactive emission along the way.
The distance that will be covered heading to Alpha Centauri is approximately 25 trillion miles or 4.37 light years. An essential objective of the nano-craft is to search for alien life.
Experts believe that extra-terrestrial presence is possible in the three-star system's sphere. The chance of locating livable planets like the Earth is quite feasible.
Due to radiation, a couple of problems have been cited to deter the space vessel's probable travel. Finding other pathways will only add years to the journey. Next, putting on a protective mechanism will add weight to the tiny craft.
Together with the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), NASA thinks that two factors will favor the integration of self-healing silicon materials into the 'StarChip' project. Based on the tiny structure's 20-nanometer measurement, the light mass and the rigid layer allow the silicon body to deter radiation.
Considering the characteristics of the material, it is likely that this equipment can be utilized for longer periods of time. This also mean that the nano-space vessel can be exposed to 20 years of space expedition.