Proxima Centauri is the closest star to our Solar System.
If the star’s position shows a total shift of 1.5377” (arcseconds), what is its parallax angle?
Using the equations above, calculate the distance to Proxima Centauri in AU?
Using the equations above, calculate the distance to Proxima Centauri in light-years?
Now let’s compare this distance to what is happening in our Solar System.
NASA’s New Horizons mission passed by Jupiter on February 28th, 2007. At the time, Pluto was 26.32 AU still away from Jupiter. New Horizons reached its closest approach to Pluto on July 14th, 2015 – 8.375 years later. Assuming the probe’s speed was constant the whole time, what was its speed in AU/yr.?
Using your results above, how long would it take New Horizons to travel all the way to Proxima Centauri? (NOTE: New Horizons’ path will not take it anywhere near the right direction for this.)
If the average life expectancy in America is 78.5 years, how many lifetimes will it take to get there? And remember that this is the closest star to us! The next closest star? Barnard’s Star at 5.95 light-years – another 50% past the Centauri system.
Based on all of this… how realistic are manned interstellar missions?
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