In the plan to colonize worlds beyond our solar system, there are countless obstacles the first human settlers will have to face upon reaching alien soil – but, that all depends on whether we get there in the first place.
Even our closest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centauri b, would take roughly 6,300 years to reach, meaning the crew must be self-sustaining and ultimately, multi-generational.
While it may seem an insurmountable feat, new research suggests wouldn’t require as many people to get such a plan off the ground as you might suspect.
With a spacecraft traveling at ‘human-feasible speed,’ scientists estimate it would take less than 100 initial crew members to establish a long-lasting interstellar population that could eventually plant its roots on Proxima b.
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Even our closest stellar neighbor, Proxima Centauri b (artist's impression pictured), would take roughly 6,300 years to reach, meaning the crew must be self-sustaining and ultimately, multi-generational
In a new study published to arXiv, scientists from the University of Strasbourg, France calculate the conditions necessary for a manned mission to Proxima Centauri b (or simply, Proxima b).
The exoplanet sits just 4.2 light years away and orbits within the habitable zone of its star, Proxima Centauri, making it a promising candidate in the search for alien worlds capable of supporting life.
It’s become the subject of countless studies since its discovery just five years ago – but, if we hope to one day get there, it will require spacecraft that achieve much higher speeds than those in existence today, according to the researchers.
And, even then, the trip through space will take thousands of years.
‘The fastest human-made objects are far from reaching such high speeds and a manned mission to Proxima Centauri b would thus take much longer,’ the authors explain.
‘As an example, the Apollo 11 spacecraft reached speeds near 40,000 km.h-1, with an average velocity of about 5500 km.h-1.
‘Any space travel onboard of Apollo 11 would have taken approximatively 114,080 years to reach Proxima Centauri b,