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Announcements & News => Astronomy & Science => Topic started by: Wickham on August 27, 2016, 04:12:36 PM

Title: Earth-sized planet at Proxima Centauri
Post by: Wickham on August 27, 2016, 04:12:36 PM
Scientists say their investigations of the closest star, Proxima Centauri, show it to have an Earth-sized planet orbiting about it.

What is more, this rocky globe is moving in a zone that would make liquid water on its surface a possibility.

It's amazing that after years of searching for exoplanets, our nearest star four light-years away has a planet of the right size and distance from its star which might have water or other liquids. The star is much older than our sun, so perhaps the planet had life at a much earlier age.

The report in the BBC website says that a small probe propelled across the galaxy by lasers would travel at perhaps 20% of the speed of light. It's also reasonable to think that with development of small, fast probes which constantly accelerate (perhaps with ion engines) up to say half the speed of light, we might get one there and reports back here within the lifetime of our young people.

A probe wouldn't need to decelerate as a fly-by is all that is required at first, and reports from half way there would give us more detailed information than we can get from here.

Title: Re: Earth-sized planet at Proxima Centauri
Post by: oliver90owner on August 27, 2016, 10:03:43 PM
At current state of technology it would, I think, need to be completely autonomous.

Think here, sending a message for it to change course slightly when close to the system - message would need to be sent approx four years in advance!  We currently have trouble getting to Mars, let alone another star system.

Accelerating to 20% of c would take some time within our solar system or an awful lot of energy transfer.   Yes possible in the future, I would think, but might need quite a few years to organise it.  Another 4 years for any information data to get back to our Solar system and the signals might be a bit weak or wayward.  More problems than I envisage being sorted in my lifetime, I reckon.

By the time that is done, they (astronomers) will likely be able to glean more from distant observation, than any probe on flyby would provide...