“The one overarching question we are asking at our foundation is: ‘Are we alone in the universe?’” said Milner, who has swore over $200 million to the Breakthrough Initiative, an association he established in 2015 that observes space, and grows new methods for infinite travel.
Talking at a Seattle gathering, ‘A New Space Age’, Milner said his science group agrees there are three potential areas for additional earthly lifeforms in our close planetary system: under the surface of Mars, Jupiter’s moon Europa, and “the most encouraging competitor,” Enceladus.
With its location of 1.27 billion miles far from Earth, Enceladus has a surface temperature beneath - 200 Celsius, yet is thought to harbor a giant hot sub-surface sea that shoots up plumes of material hundreds of miles up.
“We formed a little workshop around this idea: Can we design a low-cost, privately funded mission to Enceladus which can be launched relatively soon, and that can look more thoroughly at those plumes, try to see what’s going on there?”–said Milner.
He said the chemical makeup of the water vapor, catapulted out of springs at first glance, could give “a smoking gun for life below the surface.” He tempered expectations, however, by saying he hopes to discover “not intelligent life, maybe microbial life, or something more serious.”
A significant part of the information about the 500-km width Enceladus originates from the recently finished NASA Cassini mission, which gave exceptionally detailed photos of the moon amid its fly-bys.
In any case, Milner, whose net worth is estimated at $3.5 billion, said he intends to send his test – whose correct shape and course have not yet been set up-“ahead of a more expensive mission from NASA that might take ten years to launch.”
Milner, who trained as a physicist in Soviet Russia, now spends his time in California and Moscow, said that the expedition would turn into “the first-ever privately-funded interplanetary science mission.”
Other billionaires such as Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos are likewise building up their own particular space wanders. However,they both have been more engaged in orbital and Mars travel.