At the end of 2015, I wrote about a newly discovered exoplanet called Wolf 1061c. This was a big deal because it is only 14 light year away and might be able to support human life. Humans could live in the goldilocks zone of this planet, which is in the goldilocks zone of its star.
14 light years is relatively close, but with our current space shuttles, it might as well be a million light years away. The thing is that there were new technologies in development that could get us there in about 150 years. So we could have human beings on an alien planet in 150 years!!! How awesome is that?
As awesome as that is, here comes Proxima b! Proxima b was just discovered last week. It orbits the star Proxima Centauri and is only 4 light years away. If we took the Millennium Falcon, we could make that run in two and a half years and at maximum warp, we could be there in less than a second.
Unfortunately we don’t have the Falcon’s hyperdrive or warp speed capability. Instead, we would have to develop “deep in direct propulsion,” Which uses a space laser to shoot a beam of light at a special reflector located on the space craft. This technology sounds like science fiction, but the reality is that it already exists. All we have to do is assemble it in space and build our starship. With this space laser (which also has multiple other practical applications) we could be on Proxima b in just over 17 years.
Let’s talk about Proxima b a little. The planet is slightly larger than the Earth and is a lot closer to its star… and I mean a lot closer! To put into perspective, Mercury is .39 AUs from the Sun. That’s pretty close. Proxima b is .05 AUs from Proxima Centauri. Fortunately, Proxima Centauri is 1/7th the size of our Sun and it is also much cooler than our Sun. The fact that Proxima b is close to its star actually puts it in the goldilocks zone.
Like Wolf 1061c, Proxima b is probably tidally locked, meaning that one side of the planet will be in perpetual darkness while the other side will be in perpetual light (keeping the vampires to only one side of the planet). We don’t really know the gravity of the situation on this planet or if the planet has an atmosphere. It might contain liquid water and breathable air or it might not. We just don’t know yet. But it is promising prospect so far and it is super close.
Lay in a course and engage!