The eXoplanetary Research Institute (XRI) was founded in 1998 with a mission to explore terrestrial bodies and seek out life beyond the confines of our own solar system. Thanks to the generous anonymous contributions from a private benefactor, XRI has since become a world leader in communications and propulsion technologies and now stands at the threshold of one of the greatest scientific expeditions of all time.
When we launched our flagship probe Interstellar I more than a decade ago, we were bound for Epsilon Eridani b, which was the closest known extrasolar planet at the time. Today, based on data we've gathered with our approaching probe, we know that the Epsilon Eridani solar system contains at least 6 planets. One of these planets lies in the "Goldilocks zone"—the region in which the planet's temperature will likely be just above the freezing point of water, making it a good candidate for supporting Earth-like life.
The idea to crowdsource the exploration of our destination planet was inspired, in part, by similar projects like NASA's MoonZoo or SETIQuest Explorer. With the recent cuts in the US space program, we saw increased opportunities for private foundations like XRI to fill the void. For the Extrasolar project, we're allowing an unprecedented level of access to the most ambitious space exploration project of our time.
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