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Scientists Seek Public Support in Spotting Another 'Blue Dot' in Space

© Flickr / Kevin GillA vision of Proxima Centauri b
A vision of Proxima Centauri b - Sputnik International
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A consortium of private research organizations on Tuesday initiated a crowdfunding campaign to support their search for Earthlike planets in the neighboring star system of Alpha Centauri.

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Scientists and experts from University of Massachusetts Lowell and the SETI Institute, among others, are set to launch a telescope into space to take direct images of planets orbiting around the double suns of Alpha Centauri. They hope the telescope will be able to spot a "pale blue dot," similar to the image that represented Earth on an iconic photo taken by the Voyager spacecraft in 1990 on Valentine's Day.

Although the telescope will only be able to create indistinct images of distant planets, blue coloring would indicate that the planet's surface is covered with oceans or even that it has atmosphere and probably life, explaining why the initiative "Project Blue: A Space Telescope to Photograph Another Earth" chose their name.

"We're at an incredible moment in history, where for the first time, we have the technology to actually find another Earth," Jon Morse, mission executive for Project Blue, said in a statement. "This is a new kind of space initiative — to achieve cutting-edge science for low cost in just a few years — and it empowers us all to participate in this moment of human discovery."

The project team aims to raise at least $1 million through the Kickstarter platform by December 21, 2016, to begin necessary preparations, and the entire mission is currently estimated to cost between $10 million and $50 million, Morse told Space.com.

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