How far away is Proxima b, could we reach the potential Earth 2?

The European Southern Observatory has been searching for planets orbiting Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to our solar system for years. It has been checking observations since January this year in the hope of confirming their belief that they had found a pale red dot to match our pale blue dot.

The confirmation was made on 24 August confirming not only that Proxima b was a planet but the incredible news that it was a candidate for sustaining life, because conditions allowed for liquid water to exist on the planet.

It is a little larger than Earth but is much closer to its sun and completes a “year” in just 11 days. While the size and temperature of the planet may allow humans to survive, the star X-rays may rule it. Another implication of its distance from its sun is that it, like the moon will always have the same side facing the sun.

Planets have been found orbiting much further away, and so finding one that appears habitable and just happens to be at the next closest star would be great news. However 4,2 light years despite being close in space terms, represents something humans have yet to achieve.

There are 9 trillion kilometres in a light year. When Voyager took a photo of Earth in 1990, all that could be seen was a pale blue dot (hence pale red dot). Voyager had been travelling for 13 years already then. It has now left our solar system and is one of the fastest travelling man made objects.

How long would it take to get to Proxima Centauri?

The infographic below indicates that while we are so very close in space terms, our potential Earth 2.0 is as far away as humanity has had a history on Earth.

Despite being so close, we will need significant improvements to enable interstellar travel. At least now we have a direction to aim at.

A South African connection to the discovery is that Proxima Centauri, when discovered in 1915 by Robert Innes, was first observed using the telescope in Observatory, Cape Town.


Read More
Things we invented in 2017

Things we invented in 2017

No, this is not about Bell Pottinger or Donald Trump, but actual innovations that will affect us in the future.

The drone and satellite could become as important as the tractor to farmers

The drone and satellite could become as important as the tractor to farmers

Farming advances will add precision, both to reduce waste and costs while improving yield and being kinder to the environment.

Robots are coming! They're running, jumping and doing the backflip to get here

Robots are coming! They're running, jumping and doing the backflip to get here

A robot doing a single task is not new. The kind that can do tasks on their own? That can be a bit more scary.

Grass is always greener where you water it. That is the problem

Grass is always greener where you water it. That is the problem

We may love the sight of a manicured green lawn but, for most of South Africa, it is just not a good use of water anymore.

Electricity prices getting you down? How does free sound?

Electricity prices getting you down? How does free sound?

Suppliers of renewable energy in Germany reduced electricity prices to zero recently.

Treat your personal data like cash (because that's what it is)

Treat your personal data like cash (because that's what it is)

You can't be 100% safe online, but you can be safer than you are now.

Popular articles
South Africans Doing Great Things |  Nkosinathi Nkomo

South Africans Doing Great Things | Nkosinathi Nkomo

Wasanga speaks to Co-founder of AquaRenu, Nkosinathi Nkomo about turning a problem into an opportunity.

Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi opens up about his thesis

Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi opens up about his thesis

Ndlozi explains the significance of the the first chapter of his thesis: 'Trauma in the archives'.

German prosecutors probing Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste (for accounting fraud)

German prosecutors probing Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste (for accounting fraud)

The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield interviews Steinhoff International Chairperson Christo Wiese.

Is it normal to have a curved penis? Dr Shingai explains

Is it normal to have a curved penis? Dr Shingai explains

Urologist Dr Shingai Mutambirwa says penile curvature is only a concern if it impedes a man's ability to have penetrative sex.

Who is Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi?

Who is Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi?

The EFF lawyer stole the show during the state capture report court battle.

Meet Shoprite’s Christo Wiese, ruler of retail (and 3rd richest African)

Meet Shoprite’s Christo Wiese, ruler of retail (and 3rd richest African)

Bruce Whitfield interviews the remarkable Wiese (net worth R100 billion!) about how it all began and where it’s going.

3 easy questions could bag you R2000!

3 easy questions could bag you R2000!

WIN R2000! But only if you can prove you're a whiz of the MTN Biz Quiz by answering the following three questions...

Blesserfinder: Matching you with a sugar daddy near you

Blesserfinder: Matching you with a sugar daddy near you

Is social trend Blesserfinder, where girls are allegedly matching up with rich 'benefactors' in exchange for sex, a real thing?