When I was young, one of my favorite videogames was “Civilizations”.
The aim of the game was to develop a technological civilization starting from the “Stone Age”.
There were two main ways to win.
The first, to destroy all the other civilizations on Earth.
The second, to become a spacefearing civilization and reach Proxima Centaury and start a new World.
At that time, this second scenario seemed even more Fantasy rather than Sci-Fi.
The recent detection of a rocky planet located within the Habitable Zone of Proxima Centaury (Anglade-Escludé et al. 2016) represents, in my opinion, one of the most extraordinary discoveries of humankind.
In fact, that is the evidence that in the immediate vicinity of Earth exist a possible “New World”.
Furthermore, additional studies show the possibility that this planet, Proxima b, could have an atmosphere suitable to sustain surface habitability (Ribas et al. 2016).
Finally, it’s has been presented the possibility to image Proxima b and to determine the surface habitability through future large telescopes like E-ELT (European Extremely Large Telescope) or JWST (James Webb Space Telescope) (Turbet et al. 2016).
In conclusion, from the discovery of the first exoplanet 51-Pegasi b in 1995, we reached outstanding results in this field. In particular, we have 3387 confirmed exoplanets (NASA, 08 sept. 2016), we know that rocky planets are common in the universe and that rocky planets in the Habitable Zone are also common. Now, we know that even the nearest star (4.2 light-years from Earth) has a rocky planet in the so called Habitable Zone.
That’s fascinating! And, certainly, SETI projects will pay special attention to Proxima b, in order to detect possible signals coming from an extraterrestrial intelligence.
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