Let’s face it, with our current technology, mankind would not survive any kind of interstellar voyage due to the vast distance between Earth and the nearest stars. NASA’s Voyager may have made the 12-billion mile trek, but it took 40 years to just exit our solar system, while the closest star would require some 80,000 years to reach. Fortunately, tardigrades can be placed in suspended animation in which nearly all of their metabolic function is stopped.
Traveling at about 100 million miles per hour, a the wafer-inspired spacecraft would reach the next solar system, Proxima Centauri, in approximately 20 years. However, to reach that level of technology, researchers need to vastly improve upon the space wafer as well as photonics. A team of researchers, led by Philip Lubin, professor of physics at UC Santa Barbara and lead researcher on Project Starlight, not only want to send tardigrades, but also closely-related resilient invertebrates, into interstellar space.
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It would probably look like a semiconductor wafer with an edge to protect it from the radiation and dust bombardment as it goes through the interstellar medium. It would probably be the size of your hand to start with,” said Philip Lubin, a professor in the Department of Physics at UC Santa Barbara.