The Nearest Exoplanets?
They would be the closest worlds beyond the solar system.
If there are planets around the double star Alpha Centauri AB, they’re a mere 4 light-years distant, a remove so small we might actually be able to send space probes there in the foreseeable future.
However, everyone agrees that it would be considerably more interesting to explore this system if it houses a habitable world. To date, there’s no compelling evidence of any planets in the vicinity of the Centauri pair. Now, two scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Ruslan Belikov and Eduardo Bendek, think it’s possible to find out not only if such worlds exist, but also learn if any are habitable.
These scientists propose to launch a small telescope into orbit, outfitted with a device to block the blinding glow of the two stars, to search for habitable worlds. Because this is a special-purpose instrument, optimized for this one target only, it could be built for a relatively small amount of money. The SETI Institute is partnering with their project, both in technology development and fundraising.
Check out this video, and watch the intriguing story of Mission Centaur.