Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty


Roberto Flaibani

November 26, 2012

Terrorism, war, worldwide economical crisis. All human activities are suffering under the present crisis budget cutbacks, and space exploration has been afffected, too. What we need would be an interest that would refuel popular and scientific enthusiasm for space projects and explorations once again as during the 1960's and 1970's. Whe need an explosive target, something that no human being could ignore. We doesn't know where it is, but we do know how it should appear: it should be a luxuriant planet, filled by vegetable and animal life, immediately available for the human colonization. Its name is Pandora, that is the living planet of the sci-fi movie Avatar. I propose that NASA and ESA start an international astronomy program, called “Quest for Pandora” in order to detect, within 50 ly from the Sun or beyond, the so-called “Earth Analog” worlds. These are Earth-sized worlds circling a Sun-like star in an Earth-like orbit, and are the candidates to become targets for the future interstellar missions. The second step in my order of priorities is launching the so-called “FOCAL mission”. Shortly, that consists in carrying a 20 meters large radiotelescope to a distance of 550 AU (1 AU = 1,500,000 km) from Earth, to arrive at the sphere of focuses that is an effect of the gravitational lense of the Sun. There we'll get extremely accurate data on the "candidates" that are the planets from which one shall be chosen for our first interstellar mission. The last step is connecting, advocating and funding the efforts of 100YSS, Icarus Interstellar, Tau Zero Foundation, British Interplanetary Society, and any interested space related NGOs, in order to get the first interstellar starship ready to be launched within the next century. By the way, I think that the Planetary Society should get more involved in the interstellar projects in the future. I'd like also propose that Science-Fiction is taught at the highschools, colleges, and universities, as a kind of literature helpful in opening minds and developing creativity.


martin: 11/28/2012 04:23 CST

I agree. I have been trying to figure out a way to send a probe to another star system. The way is long, most estimates suggest a travel time of > 100,000 years to even the nearest stars. If we can go fast enough or accelerate long enough, maybe a travel time of < 100 years is possible. If so, we should start now so my kids can see it happen. What is the maximum boost attainable from passing close to a planet or the sun? Getting too close to the sun may be too hot.

Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Planetary Defense

An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.



Beyond The Horizon, There's More To Explore!

Become a member of The Planetary Society and together we will create the future of space exploration.

Join Us

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join The Planetary Society

Let’s explore the cosmos together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!