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At the Breakthrough Starshot Meetings

An interesting typo — I had started to write ‘On the plane back from Proxima b,’ still a bit groggy from lack of morning coffee. Let’s correct that to ‘On the plane back from San Francisco.’ I was coming back from the Breakthrough Starshot meetings, most of which took place at Moffett Field, a former naval air station that NASA owns through its adjacent Ames Research Center. Presume no NASA involvement, though — Moffett Field is used by many and includes three university branch campuses as well as the building leased by Breakthrough Starshot.

My plan had been to settle in on the plane with my notes as I worked out what to say about the trip. Instead, I succumbed to sleep for a good part of the journey. I had slept well each night, but the meetings were intense and the note-taking non-stop. I arrived two hours after the first of them began in a small boardroom, wedged myself into a chair in the corner after nodding hello to a number of familiar faces, and began taking notes by hand, since the space was too tight for my laptop. Fortunately, things sorted themselves out after the break and I could type again.

The Cast of Characters

Looking around the table, I could see Cornell’s Mason Peck, whose work on ‘sprites’ — tiny ‘spacecraft on a chip’ — has long been a topic of conversation in these pages, and one that fits tightly into the Breakthrough Starshot concept. Former Planetary Society director Lou Friedman was there, a sail pioneer who had worked with NASA’s early concept for a Halley’s Comet mission and who led the Society’s initiative into launching small sails into space. Greg Matloff (CUNY) was down the row, an interstellar researcher whose book The Starflight Handbook was the trigger for my own decision to go deeply into the topic; his wife, the artist C Bangs, was not at the meetings, but we had an enjoyable dinner conversation and museum tour.

Pete Worden is executive director of Breakthrough Starshot, a former director of NASA Ames, while Pete Klupar is the project’s director of engineering, a role he also played at Ames. Across the table I saw astrophysicist Claire Max (UC-Santa Cruz), Kelvin Long (Initiative for Interstellar Studies), software architect Kevin Parkin (Parkin Research), Roald Sagdeev (University of Maryland), the former director of the Space Research Institute in Moscow, and Princeton astrophysicist Ed Turner. I would soon meet exoplanet hunter Olivier Guyon (University of Arizona), Princeton astrophysicist Bruce Draine, Larry Krauss (Arizona State), Wes Green (Tau Technologies), and Nobel Prize winner Saul Perlmutter, who appeared at one of the dinners.

Martin Rees, Britain’s Astronomer Royal, was at the corner of the table, a cosmologist and astrophysicist I was delighted to meet for the first time at lunch that day. Microwave and plasma physicist Jim Benford would come in shortly after I did; his brother Greg arrived that night. Mae Jemison was there from 100 Year Starship, as was Phil Lubin, whose ideas on lasers had led to consideration of building a beamer in southern latitudes to drive Starshot’s fleet of small sails. Laser and adaptive optics specialist Bob Fugate headed up the beamer subcommittee (Jim Benford led the sail group) and Harvard’s Avi Loeb chaired the meetings.

There are too many people to simply list here — I’ll let these and others speak in the rest of my reports on Breakthrough Starshot. Suffice it to say that many people I had written about before on Centauri Dreams were involved in these meetings, some of whom I was encountering in person for the first time. There would be plenty of time to talk at the dinners each night and I’ll be reporting on some of these conversations, such as a fine evening talking to JPL’s Slava Turyshev and Olivier Guyon, and Indian food with the Benfords and UNM’s Rafael Fierro. Drinking a Sazerac with Jim Benford and UNM’s Chaouki Abdallah was a highlight.

fig01

Fig02: Facing the camera at the end of the table on the left is Martin Rees. That’s Lou Friedman behind him, Slava Turychev, Kevin Parkin, Mason Peck (behind Mason is Roald Sagdeev, although hard to see). On the other side of the table, from the left with backs turned, is Larry Krauss, Claire Max, Phillip Lubin, Mae Jemison and Pete Klupar. The picture doesn’t catch many of the people sitting around the sides of the room. When we met in full committee, it was a tight but manageable squeeze. The subcommittee scenes were roomier.

The Entwined Proxima Centauri b

On the flight out, I had spent a good bit of time tweaking what I wanted to say about Proxima b. I had the discovery paper in my bag and had already written a rough draft that I would publish when the embargo lifted. As you might imagine, Proxima b was much on the minds of the Breakthrough team, all of whom were well aware of Pale Red Dot’s accomplishment in finding a provocative planet around the nearest star. The subject would dominate many conversations.

I’ve seen some reports that the discovery of Proxima’s planet has given Breakthrough Starshot its target. But I think this is a mistaken assumption. In fact, no target has yet been chosen because it’s far too early to make such a choice. What Proxima b does deliver is the first planet around another star within range of this project. We shouldn’t assume it will be the last.

Remember that we are dealing with a multi-decade project, one I’ll sketch out in more detail in tomorrow’s post. That means we have some time to work out the best choice of destinations. And right now we have not just Proxima Centauri on our doorstep, but also Centauri A and B, the former a G-class star a bit larger than the Sun, the latter a K-class dwarf of considerable interest. Either of these could have planets of their own, and within the decade or perhaps a bit beyond, we should be able to make a definitive statement about further possibilities.

fig02

The fact that we can’t do more with Centauri A and B right now is because their angular separation in the sky is too tight. In fact, as seen from Earth, they closed to within their closest distance last spring. In coming years, as the separation again widens, we should be able to bring our radial velocity tools to bear to again delve into possible planetary systems there.

Which would you choose, if the choice were between a terrestrial-class world in the habitable zone around, say, Centauri B and a planet of similar size and interest around Proxima? My suspicion is that the Centauri B world would receive the nod, but bear in mind even as I say this that Breakthrough Starshot is envisioning not one but thousands of small sailcraft. If that scenario occurs, and given the fact that once a beamer has been built on Earth it will become a tool that can be used for many missions, we will eventually explore all three Centauri stars.

Image: Building 18 at Moffett Field. Most of the buildings in this area were built in the 1920s or so, an unusual setting for starship deliberations, but I enjoyed the irony. I also learned that Breakthrough Initiatives has purchased new facilities in downtown Palo Alto.

But I don’t think anyone at the Breakthrough Starshot meetings will forget the buzz that Proxima Centauri b caused. It is our first detected world around the closest stellar system (Centauri B’s lone planet is widely considered to have been an artifact of activity on the star itself, misread as a planetary signature), and at a dinner on the second night, the scientists who spoke enjoyed referring to ‘a rumored planet’ around Proxima. It always brought a laugh because everyone knew it was the real deal, and the announcement would be the next day.

Tomorrow I’ll take a broader look at Breakthrough Starshot, its aims and possible schedule, while working in more observations from the various meetings both official and social. As we’ll see, the number of breakthroughs needed here is formidable, and my belief is that the mission outline will change substantially as the early simulations and experimental work are performed.

As occurs at any such conference, a lot of things get done at meals and in the hallways as the proximity of researchers sparks ideas. I tried to keep my head down and my ears open, so we’ll have a lot to talk about in coming days.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • David Grinspoon August 29, 2016, 11:21

    Paul, I just wanted to take a moment to say how much I appreciate the work you do in keeping us informed of so many interesting developments and fostering constructive dialogs on all our topics of mutual interest. Keep up the good work!

    • Paul Gilster August 29, 2016, 11:28

      It’s my pleasure, David. And what a pleasure as well to have you among the readers here. I’ve admired your work for a long time.

    • Alan Boyle August 29, 2016, 20:32

      Amen to that!

    • Carson August 31, 2016, 15:03

      Hell yes! I think most of us are really grateful for Paul’s work. I love the his postings and site. I hope you are compensated well. I believe I first found this “blog” through discovering an article about the Tau Zero Foundation some 7 years ago in my mid-twenties. It has all my interests and more. Also, a great place to go when I need to lift to my spirit.

      With our lives being so busy, I signed up for the email newsletters through my work address about a year ago so I don’t forget to visit weekly :-)

      So a big thank you to Paul. The interstellar, deep space exploration, astrobiology community is a great place. You are all trailblazers in this moment of human history.

      • Paul Gilster August 31, 2016, 15:30

        Thanks, Carson! I’m glad to have you in this community. Getting to deal with these issues every day is a dream situation for me.

  • Cherei M August 29, 2016, 11:33

    It is my hope.. that we will ensure the survival of our species.. and take our wonderful selves.. out into the great beyond.. to go where no man has gone before.

  • Matt Russell August 29, 2016, 11:36

    Want to second what David said. This is our favourite site for information on space, well informed, up to date, interesting and accurate. Fabulous stuff. Keep it up please :)

    • Paul Gilster August 29, 2016, 11:46

      Thanks, Matt! Much appreciated. Glad to have you aboard.

  • Michael August 29, 2016, 11:54

    It is my believe in time we will move away from a Miracle-to the power-Miracle interstellar project to a Cost-to the power-Will one.

    Now as for A-B, C centauri stars if we just have a transverse velocity of a few 10’s km/s at the start of the journey then after twenty years of flight time they will reach the two star systems, they are that close. This traverse velocity could be applied late in the acceleration phase by just shifting the angle of reflection without a major change in direction of the beam.

  • Ashley Baldwin August 29, 2016, 12:19

    I add to the sentiments slice of course. Thanks as ever Paul . Olivier Guyon is a name that interests be greatly both generally but especially in the context of this project . One of the world’s leading experts on coronagraphs and heavily involved in various exoplanet direct imaging concepts including topically , ACEsat .

    Did you get any sense of his involvement that you can comment on? Surely there must be an attempt to image Alpha Centauri rather than wait on RV work which is difficult and tine consuming , does not characterise deeply beyond location and lower mass , and as we know is open to challenge initially , especially over such an important target. How much of an additional incentive would an image of a planet be ! The stable orbital zone of Alpha Centauri A and B also covers pretty much the two stars hab zones too .

    ACEsat and Centaur have shown just how reasonably planets can be detected in this unique system ,with even a bit of characterisation rather than a fifteen year wait for Proxima b, though it must surely act as a catalyst.

    • Paul Gilster August 30, 2016, 9:22

      Ashley, Olivier got into an interesting A/C discussion at the Breakthrough Discuss meetings, and I may be able to report on that a bit later in the week. But I didn’t talk about this with him specifically at the San Francisco sessions.

  • David Cummings August 29, 2016, 13:44

    I want to add my voice to the compliments given to Paul and to this site. I signed up years ago and though I don’t comment much, I am a regular reader. I read many science websites and Centauri-Dreams is at the top of my list.

    Here’s an interesting summary piece about Starshot from Popular Science:

    http://www.popsci.com/three-questions-for-breakthrough-starshot

    • Paul Gilster August 29, 2016, 14:57

      Thanks to both you and Ashley for these kind thoughts, David.

  • john walker August 29, 2016, 13:59

    What are purposes of the “new facilities” in Palo Alto?

    • Paul Gilster August 29, 2016, 14:58

      Don’t know enough at this point to say, John. I assume this will be the Breakthrough Initiatives HQ, but I haven’t confirmed that.

  • RAS August 29, 2016, 15:09

    Paul did you inadvertently give away your extraterrestrial origins with that slip in your first sentence?

    • Paul Gilster August 29, 2016, 15:18

      Hey, keep this under cover, will you? ;-)

      • Michael August 30, 2016, 2:49

        ‘An interesting typo — I had started to write ‘On the plane back from Proxima b,’ still a bit groggy from lack of morning coffee.’

        Is coffee the answer to hyper-sleep grogginess?…I knew it!

        • Paul Gilster August 31, 2016, 12:19

          Michael, coffee is the answer to everything.

  • RobFlores August 29, 2016, 16:44

    I think we need to think about the cost benefit of launching, accelerating
    and building a probe versus probability of a target having “interesting worlds”

    This would be especially true is we send probes to hotter K, G, and F type suns nearby. These suns will probably not give up their secrets via stellar ‘wobble’ as far as terrestrial sized planets are concerned. If proxima b
    Turns out to be incredibly hostile more reason seek out other types of suns.

    We should consider two classes of missions.
    Cheap but very fast: The purpose of this type of mission is to gain sufficient knowledge as to whether or not it is good candidate for the more expensive mission. The probe should of mass single digit Kilogram class (4-6kg). It should be able to tells us how many planets overall in the system , their approximate size, and orbits, and it should be able to Detect if a planet has a substancial atmosphere, and possibility detect liquid surface reflecting the primary’s sunlight. They should be cheap to build and launch / accelerate. Fast, How fast? Something on the order of .75C that would allows to create a good set of candidates for more the more expensive mission. Now this admittedly may turn out be moot, IF we find better ways to characterize nearby solar systems with K,G,F stars, from our home system.

    Deluxe Modest Speed:
    This is a probe in the 100 Kg class, The biggest question is whether or not we should try to slow this probe down if its cruise speed is .2C , I think it is possible to design the probe to attempt such a thing but It will cost capability.
    The probe would have to be designed to use nuclear pulse braking. And most it’s mass would be used up in the effort. If you slow down the probe to .05 C is it worth the effort?. At .2c the useful time within a system such as sun (assume double Jupiter orbital diameter for simplicity ) would be something like 600 Minutes, (1 billion mile traverse overall). slowing to .05 C give us 24,000 minutes. or 40 hours. I am guessing it would take
    75% of the mass to attempt such a braking, leaving 25 kg for instrumentation. If the on board payload package were able to image (1) target planet and put give it’s surface and atmospheric composition , magnetic field, at this speed it would be worth braking.

    • Joe August 29, 2016, 18:11

      I’m not all that proficient at physics, but it seems to me there is a huge difference between the cell phone size spacecraft travelling at .2C that Project Starshot envisions and a 4-6Kg craft travelling at .75C. Is this really practical in the next 50 years or so?

    • Joe August 29, 2016, 18:13

      P.S Also, if you have a spacecraft travelling .75C won’t relativist effects come into play? How would this effect the mission?

  • Geoffrey Hillend August 29, 2016, 16:50

    I like the idea of optical communication and am interested in what it would be since obviously normal radio communication through radio waves takes too much energy or watts of power to fit into a small probe. Source Frontiers of Propulsion Science.

    Also how are they going to turn the interstellar spacecraft. New Horizons used 77 kilograms of hydrazine in addition to Helium. A http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/Mission/Spacecraft/Systems-and-Components.php
    A breakthrough might be needed here since size and weight are important.

    What about the remote sensing scientific instruments experiment package. What will it include? New horizons had a passive microwave radiometer(requires a radar dish), which can detect gravitational mass, a ultra-violet spectrometer and an infra-red spectrometer. https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/newhorizons/spacecraft/index.htmlhttp://pluto.jhuapl.edu/Mission/Spacecraft/Payload.php

  • Geoffrey Hillend August 29, 2016, 17:08

    Oh and a magnetometer to measure a magnetic field and low and high energy particle detectors might be nice too. An active microwave radiometer to detect temperature using radar might be nice. https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/basics/bsf12-1.phpHow much weight will the scientific instruments payload be allowed?

  • Geoffrey Hillend August 29, 2016, 17:09
  • Roger Penna August 29, 2016, 22:46

    Paul, was there any talk already with people from Breakthrough Starshot about the subject of the other blog post, the “radio communication bridges” using the Sun and Alpha Centauri’s Focal Lines, which would allow bit-error free communication using only milliwatts of energy?

    That italian physicist should be sitting on that room with you people!

    • Paul Gilster August 30, 2016, 9:09

      Roger, we did discuss the idea of a FOCAL mission in support of Breakthrough Starshot at the Breakthrough Discuss meetings last April. But at these committee meetings, it did not come up because the focus was on what needs to be done in the immediate future to get the project moving. Communications are huge, but will be discussed in later sessions.

      • Roger Penna August 30, 2016, 14:24

        Many thanks. Hope to hear more on that in the future. A focal mission with a swarm of starchips, sending crisp exoplanets photos back to Earth would be very exciting… as well as maybe, who knows, as Maccone and you mentioned on that post, “tapping” for the first time into the “Galactic Telecoms Network” :)

        All the best

    • Matt August 30, 2016, 19:56

      Keep in mind that the Breakthrough Starshot initiative is about getting small spacecraft up to speed, they have said nothing about slowing them down. So these spacecraft would get to the gravitational lens focal point and they would keep going. That might not be a problem, if there is a large fleet of them passing through the focal point, at frequent intervals.

      In addition these are very small craft. I would expect them to be specialized to save mass and volume. They might not have the sort of instruments that would be useful at a gravitational lens focal point.

      • Michael August 31, 2016, 2:07

        If the speed is not too great the dark side of the sail can be coated in alpha emitter material which as it decays will slow it down to a stop. If we use MEM technology to make little paddles with the emitter material on them we can not only stop but control the craft and have energy for retransmission back to earth.

  • Cyril August 30, 2016, 1:42

    Would Starshot’s beamer be useful for laser launching, a la Leik Myrabo’s work? If so, it may open up the Solar System. So there’s more motivation to work on the beamer.

  • Cyril August 30, 2016, 1:47

    Another thought. Many people seem to assume that Proxima b would be tidally locked. But I have heard that b’s orbit may have eccentricity as high as 0.35. Is tidal locking even possible when the eccentricity is that high?

    • Ashley Baldwin September 4, 2016, 14:55

      Yes but it could easily lead to a more unusual 3:2 resonance like with 0.2 eccentricity Mercury , or even. 2:1 if there was some inclination to the plane of the ecliptic .

  • Eric August 30, 2016, 1:54

    Looking for science-related t-shirts, I stumbled across “starchip” art on a print-your-own t-shirt, mug, etc, website. It depicts the basic idea of Breakthrough Starshot in an artistic fashion:

    http://www.zazzle.com/starchip_tee_by_sciencefrontiers-235322011918288147

  • Moebius August 30, 2016, 4:50

    My guess is that every SpaceChip will carry only one instrument. Carrying more than one instrument on each of them will increase the weight and make each one of them more expensive and hard to accelerate. Plus, if you lose one of them, you also lose all its precious instruments. Redundancy requirements will be met by sending a swarm of SpaceChips, so it is better to have only one instrument per SpaceChip. For example, if we need 10 instruments, then better send waves composed of sub-groups of 10 SpaceChips, each one carrying one different instrument and communicating with each other via short-range radio or laser. Therefore, we can send as many instruments as we need, wave after wave new instruments can be added to the swarms. Once we have the laser beamer and the nanosail technology, lots of new SpaceChips can be designed and launched every month and new capabilites can be added to the dotted line of SpaceChip swarms over the years.

    • ljk August 30, 2016, 9:14

      I recall one scientist in an interview maybe just ten years ago who openly mocked the idea of ETI visiting and studying us via nanoprobes (they would come in biological form in huge ships, of course). Now with Breakthrough Starshot, the idea of very small probes seems to be getting the respect it deserves.

      If one lives long enough, you get to see many things that society once mocked and worse finally being understood and supported. We still stumble when it comes to numerous cultural ideas, but I am seeing real progress in the sciences and society’s reaction to them, which is very gratifying.

      • Alex Tolley August 30, 2016, 16:36

        As Arthur C Clarke said long ago:

        Every revolutionary idea seems to evoke three stages of reaction. They may be summed up by the phrases:
        1- It’s completely impossible.
        2- It’s possible, but it’s not worth doing.
        3- I said it was a good idea all along.

        Of course one should bear in mind that sometimes point 2 is correct. This may be a case with the EU’s brain simulation project for example.

        • ljk August 31, 2016, 9:02

          Oh I know when the day comes that alien life is confirmed, there will be plenty of Number 3s happening all over the science community.

          The other variation on Number 3 is “I thought of it first!”

          I can remember astronomers doubting about finding exoplanets any time soon, forget aliens – before 1995, that is. Or 1992 if you count those pulsar planets.

          • Moebius September 2, 2016, 10:05

            A few decades ago everyone at Xerox, even the scientists who invented it, were doubting that computer users will ever need a mouse-cursor interface. Before that, nobody saw the interest of having a computer at home, the idea itself of a personal computer that was smaller than a room sounded ridiculous and now everyone has a smartphone in his pocket that is more powerful than the wardrobe-size computer which brought the astronauts to the Moon in 1969, and without which one feels lost.

  • Jean Schneider August 30, 2016, 5:21

    Thank you Paul for the notes “back from Proxima Cen b”.
    At the meeting, any discussion about HD 164595?

    Jean

    • Paul Gilster August 30, 2016, 8:55

      No, I heard nothing about HD 164595, although as I’ll be explaining in my second post (later today), there was a SETI meeting before the Starshot meeting that I was not able to attend. So I don’t know if this star was discussed there or not.

  • Michael Spencer August 30, 2016, 7:00

    As I read through your opening paragraphs, Paul– what a cast of scientists! I don’t think I realized until now the character of the team that Mr. Milner has assembled.

    Quite a pantheon. If anybody can bring this project to fruition it’s this team.

    • Paul Gilster August 30, 2016, 8:56

      I couldn’t agree more. Top names all around.

  • Mark L. Vines August 30, 2016, 7:13

    The goal of the Breakthrough Starshot flyby mission, high-resolution data return from one or more solar systems in the Rigel Kent moving group within half a century, is surely among the worthiest in the history of science. Yet how do the technical challenges and the cost of such a mission compare with other ways of attempting the same goal?

    As proposed by Dr. Claudio Maccone, one or more FOCAL-type missions in the opposite direction, designed to operate at our Sun’s gravitational lensing distance, might yield a faster, more affordable payoff. The light-bending power of the Sun’s mass is estimated to bring objects behind the Sun into “focus” at some 548 to 550 AU out. Admittedly, that “focus” is likely a distorted smear that will test our interpretive capacity.

    Yet the distance to the Proxima system, about 269,000 AU, and the probe speed required to reach that distance within the mission span, perhaps 0.15c or more, pose formidable hazards and operational difficulties. Indeed, the summed RECONS uncertainty in the distance to Proxima Centauri, its absolute value being 0.004 parsecs, is 150% of our Sun’s estimated gravitational lensing distance.

    In other words, to achieve hi-rez data capture and return, the distance that FOCAL would have to travel is only two-thirds of the current uncertainty in the much greater distance that Starshot would have to travel.

    I’m no expert, and some of you reading this surely understand the comparative technical challenges better than I. Yet it seems likely that a dozen midsize FOCAL probes, benefiting from lenses, antennas and beams with decent diameters, could be highly cost-competitive with hundreds or thousands of miniature Starshot probes.

    Other projects, like a VLBI telescope array on the lunar farside, might conceivably peg an even sweeter spot on the data affordability chart.

    Starshot will be worth doing, eventually, no matter what other options we choose for exploring the worlds around the stars that move with Alpha Centauri. I merely hope that the most practical, affordable missions will be mounted first.

  • Richard Walden August 30, 2016, 7:22

    Paul, I’m only an interested layman who stumbled on your site. I’m hooked. I can *almost* follow *most* of the discussions *maybe*. I have no pet theory of my own, but I am fascinated by the exploding knowledge of what is really out there.

    As long as you don’t mind putting up with an amateur who might occasionally have a blazingly obvious question, I’ll be back.

    BTW,my first question, which, if any of the sites that claim to use my computer during idle times to do SETI searches actually do something useful?
    TY in advance

    • Paul Gilster August 30, 2016, 8:51

      Richard, you are certainly welcome here, and I’m pleased to hear that you’re hooked. By all means join our community. As to your question, I am a great proponent of the SETI@Home effort, and I think it’s providing an excellent service. So I send you in their direction. Looking forward to hearing from you again.

  • ljk August 30, 2016, 9:16

    Who else is looking for exoworlds circling Proxima Centauri:

    http://www.universetoday.com/130345/else-looking-cool-worlds-around-proxima-centauri/

    To quote:

    Roughly the same size as a suitcase, the MOST satellite weighs only 54 kg and is equipped with an ultra-high definition telescope that measures just 15 cm in diameter. It is the first Canadian scientific satellite to be placed in orbit in 33 years, and was the first space telescope to be entirely designed and built in Canada.

    Despite its size, MOST is ten times more sensitive than the Hubble Space Telescope. In addition, Kipping and his team knew that a mission to look for transiting exoplanets around Proxima Centauri would be too high-risk for something like Hubble. In fact, the CSA initially rejected their applications for this same reason.

    “MOST initially denied us because they wanted to look at Alpha Centauri following the announcement by Dumusque et al. of a planet there,” said Kipping. “So understandably Proxima, for which no planets were known at the time, was not as high priority as Alpha Cen. We never even tried for Hubble time, it would be a huge ask to stare HST at a single star for months on end with just a a 10% chance for success.”

  • Mindey August 30, 2016, 10:37

    Considering the risk from asteroid impact, and a potential gain of using a discovered asteroid for creating a large interstellar spaceship, I think that in the near term, investment into search for near-Earth asteroids would be more important than investment into search for extraterrestrial planets… though, extraterrestrial planets are really what is captivating imagination.

    I’d love to know your take on the problem of making life multiplanetary (http://infty.xyz/g/113/en).

    • ljk August 30, 2016, 12:21

      With over 7 billion humans on this planet and climbing every second and seemingly more than enough money for certain projects like fighter jets that cost more than the entire annual NASA budget for three decades, I think we can afford to do both.

      Plus if you look into what has been spent on SETI in the past, it is pure chicken feed compared to almost all other science projects: An insult to the field considering how important the discovery of alien life would be. Even the $100 million given by Breakthrough Initiative isn’t all that much comparatively, and will soon be exhausted.