NASA to launch first interstellar mission to exoplanet in search of alien life

The ground-breaking mission will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

The US government has called on NASA to create a method of propulsion capable of reaching at least 10 per cent of light speed and been charged with visiting our closest star Alpha Centauri.

The space agency hopes to have perfected the means of travel by 2069, 100 years after man’s first step foot on the moon.

After a planet has been chosen as the best candidate a probe will be sent there to search for life, NASA revealed.

Several solar systems are currently being considered as well as Alpha Centauri.

Scientists plan to launch a giant telescope into deep space to gather a better picture of the chosen planet as the probe hurtles towards it.

Anthony Freeman first presented the mission idea to the American Geophysical Union conference.

Mr Freeman Told The New Scientist: “It’s very nebulous.”

The expert however questioned whether it would be possible to build a craft that can survive the trip.

He said: “We don’t know whether the mission objectives will be stable.

“We would find out a lot while the spacecraft is en route, which will change the questions that we need to answer before it arrives at its destination. All this makes it hard to pin down exactly what the mission concept should look like – hence my comment that it is nebulous.”

News of NASA’s plans come after the space agency warned of an asteroid that will skim our planet today.

The space rock had been invisible to astronomers until Christmas Day when it was first identified.

Now called asteroid 2017 YZ4, it will pass us between the Earth and the Moon at a distance of just 139,433 miles.

The Moon is 238,000 miles from Earth, and this pass is considered extremely close in astronomical terms.

NASA considers and monitors anything which comes within six million miles of our planet as a near-earth asteroid.

The small asteroid is estimated to be between 7 and 15 metres (22.6 to 49 feet) in diameter.