Project Blue, a mission to build and launch a telescope, to photograph Earth-like planets, around our nearest star system, Alpha Centauri.
Finding the first planet like Earth beyond our solar system would transform how we think about our place in the universe.
Ten years ago, we didn’t know if planets like Earth were common in the universe. Then NASA’s Kepler mission launched, and changed everything. Kepler discovered thousands of rocky planets orbiting stars, some of which are at a distance where liquid water could exist on the surface. It’s estimated that there are more Earth-like planets in the universe than people alive today. But we’ve never actually seen one.
Thanks to recent breakthroughs, scientists now have the technology to take a direct image of an Earth-like planet outside our solar system.
Project Blue is a consortium of leading space and research organizations on a mission to build and launch a small space telescope to observe planets around our nearest stellar neighbors: Alpha Centauri A and B. The goal is simple: to capture an image, visible to the human eye, of orbiting planets. Seeing a “pale blue dot” could indicate the presence of oceans or an atmosphere — the potential to support life. It would be our first view of another world like our own. With a modest budget and a planned launch by 2020, this goal is tantalizingly close.