One of the most complex, and often controversial, questions mankind has ever faced:
Are we alone?
When asking such a question, it may be in reference to spirituality or even theories such as the possibility of ghosts. However, we are discussing the existence of another Earth-like planet, potentially leading to the exciting discovery of life thriving in other locations in our galaxy.
Simply put, exoplanets are planets that orbit a star outside of our solar system. Nearly 50 years ago, the existence of such objects was sparsely understood and often regarded as science fiction. The Apollo 11 mission, the first time man set foot on the moon, occurred in 1969. We were only beginning to understand our own solar system.
As of July 18th, 2016, astronomers have confirmed 3,368 exoplanets. 62 of which were reported that day. Four of the 62 were deemed Earth-like.
Hundreds of exoplanets fall under a similar classification as seemingly habitable locations within our galaxy, orbiting within the “goldilocks zone” of their star, the region suitable for life to form within a solar system.
The recently released documentary, “The Search for Earth Proxima”, outlines developments in the newly popular exoplanet-hunting field. The video emphasizes the practicality of searching for exoplanets closer to Earth. Luckily, Alpha Centauri A and B (a binary star system) have Earth-like exoplanets orbiting them. The closest system to our sun within the stellar neighborhood, Alpha Centauri is roughly 4.3 light years away, making it extremely difficult to send any type of manned mission to, but fairly easy to study with scientific machinery.
Tastefully composed and awe-inspiring, this short documentary revolves around the objectives of Mission Centaur, a program designed to study exoplanets orbiting the binary system for which it is named after.
Check out “The Search for Earth Proxima” here. Share with friends, family, or anyone who is even remotely interested in astronomy.
Keep looking up!
(Sources: www.theverge.com, YouTube, NASA)