A group of scientists under the leadership of the former head of the astrophysics division of NASA John Morse announced the launch of an ambitious project to search for potentially habitable planets in the star system of alpha Centauri, as well as traces of life on such planets. In the framework of Project Blue in 2019-2022 years the planned launch into space of the first private space telescope.
Alpha Centauri — the closest to the Earth star system located from us at a distance of about 4,36 light years. It includes a dual-star (α Centauri A and α Centauri B), and red dwarf Proxima Centauri. Long discussion of possibility of existence of life there was considered primarily a lot of science fiction writers and authors of science fiction movies. However, since mid-July last debate on this subject quite actively in the scientific community.
It all started with the fact that the American experts from the University of Pennsylvania has made a computer model, according to which a stellar system with a high probability should be several earth-like potentially habitable planets. As stated by scientists, orbiting α Centauri A and α Centauri B planets may be two, and near Proxima Centauri — one.
Just a month after that astrophysics from the European southern Observatory said orbiting Proxima Centauri, they managed to find a planet, in many ways resembling the Earth — in particular, its mass is only 20 percent greater than the mass of our planet. However, some experts were skeptical of the idea that the exoplanet may be habitable — that are too close to their star, so the flash on it would have to blow it all the water necessary for the formation of life. However, simulations conducted by researchers from the Marseille University, showed that the planet Proxima Centauri b may be covered with a whole ocean of liquid water. Thus, the question of possible life on this cosmic body (and whether the alpha Centauri system and other similar body) remains open.
To learn the secrets of our neighboring star systems, in the framework of private orbiting telescope experts expect to send to her 55 cm private orbiting telescope, the cost of which is estimated at approximately 10-50 million dollars. Thus to further study the planet in orbit of Proxima Centauri with the help of this device is unlikely to succeed, because her star is not bright enough. However, scientists hope that in the framework of the project they will be able to detect other earth-like planets.