Scientists propose to launch microorganisms into interstellar space with the help of laser engines


February 20 2022 21:29 GMT

Experts plan to use a small semiconductor probe with a rim that protects it from radiation during the mission.

A group of scientists proposes to launch living microorganisms into interstellar space on miniature “ships” to study their behavior from Earth, they say in condition It was published last month in Acta Astronautica.

Microscopic organisms will fly into space inside a small semiconductor probe human hand sizeor even smaller, equipped with a shield that protects it from radiation as it passes through the interstellar medium.

To carry out these excursions outside the solar system, the researchers propose using a technology they are now working on that uses light as a “thruster” and allows “the propulsion of macroscopic objects at speeds close to the speed of light”, explain Philip Lubin, a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) and co-author of the study.

Head to the nearest star

The probe, which will carry instruments on board to detect, collect and transmit data to Earth, will be propelled up to 20-30% of the speed of light by the light itself, using a propulsion laser centered on Earth, or even on the Moon.

In this way, experts calculate that the “little ship” can reach speeds More than 160 million kilometers per hourUntil you reach the red dwarf star Proxima Centauriclosest to our solar system, in about 20 years.

Inside these vessels were entering microscopic organisms, such as the so-called Caenorhabditis elegans or tardigradesknown as water bears, which could become the first earthlings to travel among the stars.

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‘trained behavior’

They discover the first black hole roaming freely in interstellar space

The objective of the mission is to accurately observe living organisms from Earth with the help of Photon connection To discover what effect interstellar travel might have on it. In this way, they seek to study the potential effects of a flight with these characteristics on humans, despite the realization that sending people into interstellar space is still a long way off.

“We can investigate how they remember trained behavior when they fly away from their terrestrial origin at close to the speed of light and Check your metabolismphysiology, neural function, reproduction and aging,” says Joel Rothman, Lupine Fellow at the University of California, San Francisco and co-author of the paper.

In this sense, the scientist assures that most of the experiments that can be done with these animals in the laboratory can also be done in a small spacecraft while traveling through the universe.

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Lovell Loxley

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