JULIAN BAUM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY JULIAN BAUM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Search for other planetary systems. Artist's impression of the ExNPS spacecraft, seen passing the orbit of Mars (lower left). The Exploration of Neighboring Planetary Systems (ExNPS) project is a long- term effort to search for Earth-like planets around other stars. The spacecraft shown here is an infra-red interferometer telescope, using four small mirrors to simulate a single telescope of 70 metres diameter. This would provide the resolution needed to spot small planets tens of light years away. The spacecraft would orbit beyond Mars to reduce interference from the Sun's infrared light. If funding is approved, this enormously complex spacecraft would be operational within 30 years.
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