The first accurate maps of the world captured the distributions of continents and the oceans, enabling travel and trade between continents. Five hundred years later, we have accurate and detailed maps of most planets in the Solar System, a very good understanding of the Milky Way Galaxy and the Local Group of Galaxies, and even the large-scale structure of the Universe.
However, extrasolar planets remain difficult to detect: many planets have been found, but almost all around far-away stars that are particularly well-suited for detecting planets around them.
The vast majority of planets even around the closest stars remain unexplored.
Project EDEN works toward discovering and characterizing habitable planets in the immediate solar neighborhood – within 50 lightyears (or 15 parsecs). This is a tiny volume of the Milky Way Galaxy, yet contains the planets we are most likely to be able to characterize in the future – and the planets which mankind will be able to visit, if interstellar travel ever becomes a reality.