Off World

The Proxima Centauri Exoplanet: ESO Press Conference Set for Tomorrow

There may be a new Earth-like planet, and it's just next door.

Earlier this month, German online news source Spiegel reported that the European Southern Observatory (ESO) had found an alien planet orbiting its host star within the Goldilocks zone, making it a viable candidate for harboring water—and therefore, hosting life.

Best of all? It orbits the star that is closest to the Sun, making it our nearest neighbor.

To that end, the exoplanet in question, which is located around Proxima Centauri, is particularly exciting because it’s the closest and best shot we have at finding extraterrestrial life beyond our solar system. Estimates peg the travel time for a conventional probe to the exoplanet at about 80,000 years.

But with new propulsion technologies, this travel time can be cut down to 50 years.

Earth to Proxima Centauri.
Close enough: Earth to Proxima Centauri. Via JPL

The unnamed source listed by the website asserted that the ESO will make a public statement about it by the end of this month. The ESO neither confirmed nor denied any of these releases, leaving the rest of the world guessing the past week.

But this morning, the ESO announced that they will be holding a press conference on Wednesday, August 24th. What the conference will cover, however, was not specified.  


That said, the press conference, which starts at 1 p.m. Central European Time (CET), should finally set records straight: is Proxima Centauri a viable candidate for a habitable planet?

Because with new developments for space exploration quickly emerging, who knows? Sending a probe over might just become a shorter (and very viable) trip.

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