Think Big by Going Small

Listen 00:05:46

How can we get into outer space faster? Nanocraft! The $100 million Breakthrough Starshot initiative intends to develop, within a generation, the capability to launch tiny laser-propelled space probes to the nearest star. The 1 gram, postage stamp-sized chips would have all the electronics necessary to collect data and transmit information back to us from the nearest star system. Driven by 100-gigawatt laser, the chips would accelerate up to 20% of the speed of light in two minutes and get them to the star in 20 years. Fronted by billionaire Yuri Milner and supported by Stephen Hawking and Mark Zuckerberg, the proposed project could cut 29,980 years off a conventionally propelled probe out to Alpha Centauri.

Gemini stands on the western horizon at 9:30 now, the last of the winter constellations. Mars is gone for this season of planet viewing, replaced by Jupiter immediately visible after sunset. By 12:45a Jupiter is well up in the south, with Saturn above the SE horizon stuck in the Milky Way portion of the sky between Sagittarius and the stars of Scorpius. Leo is in the NW, with UMaj – The Big Dipper, higher up in the north.
The moon sits in the day time sky – an unexpected phenomenon.

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