Great news! We’ve likely discovered the closest possible planet near our own star system that could potentially host life, even intelligent life. It’s a long shot due to Proxima being a red dwarf, and thus very different from our own yellow dwarf, but still worth getting excited about. The smart goons at The Economist lay out the details:
Proxima Centauri b, as it is known, probably weighs between 1.3 and three times as much as Earth and orbits its parent star once every 11 days. This puts its distance from Proxima Centauri itself at 7m kilometres, which is less than a twentieth of the distance between Earth and the sun. But because Proxima is a red dwarf, and thus much cooler than the sun, the newly discovered planet will experience a similar temperature to Earth’s. It is not the only Earth-sized extrasolar planet known to orbit in a star’s habitable zone. There are about a dozen others. But it is the closest to Earth—so close, at four light-years, that it is merely outrageous, not utterly absurd, to believe a spaceship (admittedly a tiny one) might actually be sent to visit it. Before this happens, though, it will be subjected to intense scrutiny from Earth itself.
So what’s going to happen over the new few decades is we’ll point various visual, radio, and spectrum telescopes at Proxima b to determine if this rock contains life as dumb as we are. But I say why wait? Why stop with just looking at Proxima b? Now that we have a known target, we can get around to the job of doing what Humanity of Earth does best: Destroying things!
You heard it here first, Proxima Centauri awaits our divine rule. They too need to experience the joys of democracy, freedom, Adele, endless religious wars, Coca-Cola, social media hatred, Netflix, genocide, The Zoo, electric guitars, and whatever else we can shove down their throats. What better way to unite humanity than by establishing the common goal of enslaving another? And we could take all their stuff too. They most assuredly have oil, rare metals, bluefin tuna, or other tasty stuff that we could take. We could strip mine the entire planet and nobody would care.
And at only four light years away, they’re well within conceivable range of starships we could build. Sure, this technological feat is a bit much seeing as how we haven’t been to the Moon in five decades, and we still have billions here in poverty, but we can still make it happen. Think of all the fun scenarios we could experience:
– We enter Proxima’s orbit bringing peace and love and yet somehow end up burning the planet using 438 fusion bombs within the first three years
– We show up bringing death and destruction and yet somehow end up getting our asses kicked by Proxima because they aren’t distracted by who said what on social media
– We land, and atop Proxima’s tallest mountain we find Jesus, King Arthur, and Dracula sitting around a campfire; and Jesus pulls on a cigarette and wryly states, “What took you so long?”
– We find a benevolent, wise race horrified by our planet’s thousands-of-years of death and mayhem, but who agree to at least “Give you stupid barbarian assholes a shot,” after we offer to teach them the art of brewing; and in an unrelated matter, they end up burning their planet using 438 fusion bombs within the first three years
– Having spent 37% of Earth’s GDP for two decades to get there, we find Proxima b is just a barren vacant rock
– The mission fails because 2/3 of our troop transports break halfway there because Lockheed Martin skimped on engine quality to increase quarterly profits in FY34 by 0.07%; and in an unrelated matter, Lockheed Martin’s CEO just bought his fifth boat
– Proxima actually holds a vicious Klingon like race that raids our ship’s computers to determine Earth’s location; but they abandon the conquest of Earth after three decades of grinding counterinsurgency, Earth being the quagmire that started the long decline of their Empire, and remarking, “What the fuck were we thinking?” as they meekly retreat to Proxima b
Eh, maybe we stay on our side of the room, and they on theirs?