Did you hear that astronomers at the European Southern Observatory have found a plant orbiting Alpha Centauri B, the closest star system to our own?
It’s not remotely Earth-like (small and really hot), but this is a really cool discovery because 1) we figured out it was there in a pretty sophisticated process after looking for a planet in the system for decades and not finding anything, and 2) as Phil Plait says in the same link above:
This is Alpha Centauri! Famed and fabled in a thousand science fiction stories. It’s where the Robinson family was supposed to go in “Lost in Space”. It’s where Zefram Cochrane lived in “Star Trek”. It’s where the Fithp came from in Footfall…So I, and a lot of people like me, grew up hoping against hope we’d find a planet around one of these stars someday. And here we are.
And it’s just a matter of time until we find planets that are actually Earth-like, I bet. Go humans!
One of my fondest childhood books is something called Revolt on Alpha C by Robert Silverberg. I’m delighted with this news… because if there’s one rocky planet there, there are probably more… and Alpha C is close enough it could be reachable with a few decades of travel time, using some of the proposed nuclear-powered starship schemes I’ve read about (Project Orion, Project Longshot). We won’t live to see a probe arrive there, but a lot of other people living right now might… 🙂