To date, NASA have detected over 2000 possible candidates in our galaxy that could be Earth like planets orbiting stars with similar environments to our own and may even be home to life. The problem with current methods of detection is the fact that we can’t actually directly see these planets. This also means we can’t see anything on the surface so if life does exist on it, we can’t directly see it.
NASA is only able to detect an ExoPlanet by it’s orbiting star dimming in light as the planet completes an orbit of that star. We have no idea what these planets look like, if they have water, land, life or even if life ever existed on it in the first place.
The team behind this new concept of telescope, the “ELF - ExoLife Finder”, is made up of just under a dozen professors, astrophysicists, engineers, entrepreneurs and scientists from around the globe. Their obvious goal is to find life on other planets with the ExoLife Telescope.
Much like a telescope on earth is able to provide a clear picture of the moon’s surface, the ExoLife will provide a type of “map” of the surface of such distant Exoplanets, detailing geographical features and oceans.
The project is still currently in the funding stage but the team already have their sights set on their first target when the telescope is complete.
The team’s first target will be, Proxima Centauri b also know as Alpha Centauri, an exoplanet orbiting a star in the habitable zone. This is the closest known star and planet to us outside of our own solar system. If life is found on this planet then this would obviously be the biggest discovery in modern science and possibly human existence.
The new breed of telescope will be able to analyse and image exoplanets as far away as 120 trillion miles (24 light years) away from Earth & another telescope, Colossus will be able to detect life.
"ELF will have the sensitivity to sea alien oceans and continents on Proxima B using a technique called ‘Rotational Exoplanet Imaging’.
Colossus, it’s 58 larger window glass thin electronic live mirrors will have the sensitivity to complete a census for life on a few hundred of our nearest habitable zone exoplanets.” - The Planets Foundation
The project is raising funds via kickstarter for a prototype to be made and still has $15,000 to make to hit it’s target before the campaign finishes on 9th October 2017. The final goal will be to construct the 40 meter diameter ELF at a cost of around $130 Million dollars and would take approximately 60 months to build.
If you’d like to contribute then check the video below or go direct to their page. Your contribution could help find life on other worlds, wouldn’t that be something?
ExoLife Kickstarter Page