By Jonathan Ramos
Sorry Matt Damon, but looks like you’re the First and only Martian we earthlings will ever need, as if the release of Suicide Squad wasn’t enough to fill my nerd heart with joy last month. Scientists discovered a new planet that could potentially be habitable. Leaving many people, myself included; to reconsider our modifications to reduce our carbon footprint. All jokes aside, this discovery could not come at a better time. With climate change and overpopulation constantly reminding us that this planet might have an expiration date, it is quite reassuring to know that we have a plan B, “Proxima B”, to be precise.
Scientists have found clear evidence of a planet orbiting Earth’s closest star “Proxima Centauri”. This discovery was made thanks to a team led by Guillem Anglada-Escudé director of the Pale Red Dot campaign; using the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO)’s 3.6-meter telescope. Their research found, this plant is over four light-years away and is 1.3 times the size of Earth. Proxima B orbits closer to its sun than Mercury does.
However, the star itself is less than powerful than our Sun, making Proxima B habitable and giving it a proper temperature to allow the presence of liquid water. But things on Proxima B are not all “peaches and cream”. Scientists have not confirmed the planet’s atmosphere and believe it can be affected by solar flares due to its proximity to its sun.
Most members of Generation Y have been continuously bombarded with films depicting our devastating future. In Neil Blomkamp’s film “Elysium” we get a potential look into a dystopian future in which Earth’s massive population wreaked havoc on the planet; forcing the wealthy to do to seek refuge elsewhere. Leaving the scientific community to question if it’s possible to slow down, reverse, or prevent the decay of our planet. But is it necessary? Or is it mankind’s destiny to colonize an alternative planet / galaxy?
Although, space exploration could be the next chapter in human history/evolution, there are still many steps towards a full-fledged interstellar migration. Still, this does give us hope that our future might not be so grim. The ESO is currently working on building a 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”. So if Proxima B doesn’t work out, we can find at least one habitable planet orbiting somewhere in this galaxy.