It's in the star system where "Avatar" is set.
Shiny New Planet
He hasn't even made it to Mars yet, and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's wandering eye is already on a new planet — this one completely outside our star system.
Over the weekend, Musk seemed to ideate on the prospect of visiting the relatively nearby Promixa Centauri B, an exoplanet that sits a little over four light-years away in Alpha Centauri, the star system that James Cameron's "Avatar" franchise is based on. First discovered back in 2016, Proxima B is believed to be particularly viable as a potentially life-supporting world, and it looks like Musk is paying attention.
Of course, Musk's SpaceX would actually have to make a Starship that doesn't explode before reaching orbit to eventually be able to mine Centauri B for unobtanium — pardon, to peacefully explore — but we digress. It's good to keep on dreamin'.
Practically next door
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 12, 2023
Going the Distance
It's worth noting that while Proxima B is fairly close to Earth on the grander cosmic stage, it's not exactly close by human standards. By mere Earthly measurements, the promising exoplanet sits over 2,3510,000,000,000 miles away. In plain English, that's a good twenty-three trillion five hundred ten billion miles.
Mars, by contrast — which we've still yet to put a human on — is about 195.45 million miles away from us.
Maybe One Day
Regardless of its distance, however, Proxima B is promising.
It sits in what NASA calls on its website the "habitable zone" away from its star, Proxima Centauri, where it's believed that liquid water would pool, rather than freeze or evaporate. But that said, according to NASA, the much-studied exoplanet is believed to experience "bouts of extreme ultraviolet radiation hundreds of times greater than Earth does from the Sun," which may well prove to limit how habitable the exoplanet really is.
Even so, scientists — and the ever-happy-to-populate-planets SpaceX leader, apparently — remain intrigued. But only for research purposes, of course. No mining bots here.
More on exoplanets: James Webb Telescope Detects Mysterious Water Vapor Around Alien Planet
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