space
$100-Million Plan Will Send Probes to the Nearest Star - Scientific American - “Breakthrough Starshot,” the program Milner is backing, intends to squeeze all the key components of a robotic probe—cameras, sensors, maneuvering thrusters and communications equipment—into tiny gram-scale “nanocraft.” These would be small enough to boost to enormous speeds using other technology the program plans to help develop, including a ground-based kilometer-scale laser array capable of beaming 100-gigawatt laser pulses through the atmosphere for a few minutes at a time, and atoms-thin, meter-wide “light sails” to ride those beams to other stars. Each pinging photon of light would impart a slight momentum to the sail and its cargo; in the microgravity vacuum of space, the torrent of photons unleashed by a gigawatt-class laser would rapidly push a nanocraft to relativistic speeds.
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