June 30, 2010

Onwards to Exoplanets

On a good session of stargazing, my typical cycle of moods gets its round. The elation of a beautiful star-filled night-sky is often the first emotion I get. Then comes the melancholy of a starry void--that sinking feeling of insignificance is inevitable. But it is followed by that sense of wonder that lifts me up, upon realizing the joy of being alive in the moment to ponder all these things. Then thankfulness and gratefulness often ends my exogazing session.
Curiously, there has been a new addition to these "mood swings". Lately, I found myself wondering what it would feel like to land on a planet of another star. Thus, I began to delve on topics about space travel. What started as an interest in exoplanets expanded to interstellar travel as well.
Often, the thought of going to the stars seems like science fiction. But the steady stream of news about probes reaching unknown places more otherworldy than imagination could conjure, always brings me to a point that landing a probe on an exoplanet might be possible. To this regard, The Planetary Society is stewarding precursor missions that may one day lead to sending humans to other planets. I’m well aware that it will not be during my lifetime, but yes I believe it is possible in due time.
My recent interest in the prospect of humans travelling to extrasolar planets has been fueled by Centauri Dreams whose well-informed articles by Paul Gilster always bring inspiration. As everyone knows, Centauri Dreams coordinates with the Tau Zero Foundation whose main goal is to send humans to the stars. Tau Zero collaborated with the British Interplanetary Society on Project Icarus, the successor to Project Daedalus.
To sail to the stars will be a step by step endeavor by Humanity. As what the purveyors of Project Daedalus envisioned--the successor missions will be stewarded by the next generation, and so on.
Little by little, we'll get there someday. Onwards to other worlds, onwards to exoplanets!