A discovery of historic significance was made while searching for planets beyond our Solar System. It was a planet a little larger than Earth and it was seen orbiting a red dwarf star known as Proxima Centauri.
Immediately astronomers began to wonder whether the planet had water, a climate, or life. They wondered what it would take to get a closer look or to launch an interstellar journey to the pale red dot.
Proxima Centauri is gravitationally bound to Alpha Centauri A and B, a pair of sunlight stars. At 4.2 light-years away, this red dwarf star is the closest star to our sun. Astronomers have been carefully monitoring the Alpha Centauri system as part of a campaign to find planets in the solar neighborhood. The study began in 1996 when astrologers began looking for a slight change in the color of nearby stars.
As a spacecraft arrives at an alien world, what will we learn from the morsels of information that make it back to earth? For some, the news will have little effect on their daily routines, but others will be filled with a sense of humility, fascination, and wonder. Find out more now.