If you haven’t heard by now, you should know that Guillem Anglada-Escude and his colleagues from multiple centers around the globe have discovered a planet orbiting the star closest to our sun, Proxima Centauri, that seems to be about the size of Earth. They also say that this planet is “potentially habitable” which is good news since we are en route to depleting the natural resources on our own planet. The catch? It will take 20 years to travel there if we travel at 20% the speed of light (215,800,000km/h or 134,091,903mph)
If you recall from your physics class from high school. There is a zone in which a habitable planet can reside based on its distance from the nearest start. Our Earth falls into this zone around our sun, which leads us to believe that there must be many other planets in our universe that fall under this category as well. Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf, which means that it is much smaller and cooler than our sun. This also means that this nouveau Earth is orbiting much closer to it’s sun. With a smaller orbit also comes a smaller year (11.2 days).
So what does this all mean? Well, the Breakthrough Starshot initiative plans to build laser-propelled probes to travel and explore this new discovery. Don’t hold your breath just yet though, becaouse building this probe may take about 20 years. The cost will be about $100 million initially as well, however the project is backed by a Russian billionaire so they likely will “spare no expense”.