FACULTY HONOR: Draine, Turner join board of Breakthrough Starshot

April 21, 2016 9 a.m.

Princeton University professors of astrophysical sciences Bruce Draine and Edwin Turner have been named to the management and advisory committee of Breakthrough Starshot, a new $100 million endeavor to develop a proof-of-concept for unmanned nanocrafts capable of deep-space travel at speeds nearing that of light.

Draine focuses his research on the interstellar medium, especially interstellar dust, photodissociation regions, shock waves and the physical optics of nanostructures. Turner has worked extensively in both theoretical and observational astrophysics, including galaxies, dark matter, quasar populations, the cosmic x-ray background, exoplanets and astrobiology. The board also includes theoretical physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson of the Institute for Advanced Study.

Breakthrough Starshot aims to enable a flyby mission of Earth's nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, within a generation for the purpose of capturing scientific data and images of possible planets. The project is part of the Breakthrough Initiatives program founded in 2015 by internet investor Yuri Milner.