Far Out

Proposed Mission Would Explore Interstellar Object ‘Oumuamua

"We now know such a mission, at least in principle, is achievable."

3. 15. 20 by Jon Christian
European Southern Observatory / M. Kornmesser
Image by European Southern Observatory / M. Kornmesser

Mission Achievable

Remember ‘Oumuamua, the first-ever object from interstellar space that astronomers spotted cruising through our solar system? Now a team of scientists has proposed a mission to explore it, Wired reports.

“We now know such a mission, at least in principle, is achievable,” Initiative for Interstellar Studies representative Adam Hibberd told the magazine.

Space Chase

The proposed mission, which the Initiative for Interstellar Studies calls Project Lyra, would face extraordinary challenges, ranging from the logistical to the financial to, well, pure physics.

For one thing, Wired points out, ‘Oumuamua is currently careening back out of the solar system — and every additional year, it travels approximately the same distance as a trip from Earth to Jupiter away from us.


Head Start

Counterintuitively, Hibberd and his colleagues propose waiting to launch the mission to ‘Oumuamua until the year 2030, when they say Jupiter will be in a position to slingshot a mission toward the distant object at incredible speeds.

An added bonus of waiting: They told Wired we may spot an easier-to-access interstellar object during that 10-year wait — meaning the resources could then be diverted into a different mission.

READ MORE: Should Earthlings Chase ‘Oumuamua Into Interstellar Space? [Wired]

More on ‘Oumuamua: Harvard Astronomer Defends Hypothesis That Object Is Alien Probe


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