From the Poles to Everest, the Moon and now the stars

March 20, 2024

The TOLIMAN mission to discover planets – and perhaps life – around our nearest stellar neighbours in the Centauri system has been awarded a prestigious Explorers Club flag. The Explorers Club was founded in 1904 in New York to celebrate the age of exploration and support scientific expeditions the world over. The TOLIMAN team plans to etch a likeness of the flag onto the University of Sydney co‑designed and co-built mini-satellite telescope. The TOLIMAN mission has inherited an impressive pedigree. Early members of the Explorers Club were Robert Peary, who led the first expedition to the North Pole (1909) and Roald Amundsen who led the Norwegians in the race to the South Pole (1911).

The TOLIMAN mission to discover planets – and perhaps life – around our nearest stellar neighbours in the Centauri system has been awarded a prestigious Explorers Club flag.

The Explorers Club was founded in 1904 in New York to celebrate the age of exploration and support scientific expeditions the world over. Since then, it has supported hundreds of missions, issuing 222 numbered flags to accompany efforts to push the boundaries of human knowledge.

Now, an Explorers Club flag will hang in the TOLIMAN operations centre as the team pursues its mission to search for planets, like our own, perhaps capable of hosting life.

The TOLIMAN team plans to etch a likeness of the flag onto the University of Sydney co‑designed and co-built mini-satellite telescope. Its mission? To cast its eye four light years away to Alpha Centauri to see if there are planets in that star system in the Goldilocks zone – worlds that are not too hot, nor too cold, to maintain liquid water.

The TOLIMAN mission has inherited an impressive pedigree. Early members of the Explorers Club were Robert Peary, who led the first expedition to the North Pole (1909) and Roald Amundsen who led the Norwegians in the race to the South Pole (1911).

Other members include Tenzig Norgay and Edmund Hillary, the first to climb Mount Everest (1953); Neil Armstrong and and Buzz Aldrin, who took an Explorers Club flag to the Moon (1969); and Jacques Piccard and Don Walsh, who took a flag to the depths of the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean (1960).  

TOLIMAN Principal Investigator Professor Peter Tuthill from the School of Physics at the University of Sydney said: “What an amazing honour for our team to be recognised in the same company as the polar explorers and lunar astronauts who have carried this flag. 

“It certainly sets a very high bar for the scale of the challenges our mission is aiming to meet.

The source of this news is from University of Sydney

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