It is a Catalan astronomer Guillem Anglada-Escudé of the Queen Mary University in London that discovered the closest known habitable planet to earth, Proxima Centauri b.
The exoplanet has a size similar to Earth; it is located approximately 4.2 light-years from Earth, which means it would take 30,000 years for a modern spaceship to reach the planet, El Pais reports. Exoplanets are planets that orbit a star other than the Sun.
However, Stephen Hawking, Mark Zuckerberg, and Yuri Milner are putting together the Breakthrough Starshot project, which aims to develop nano ships that could travel with laser light and reach Proxima Centauri in 20 years. The project will push modern engineering to its limits, combining nanotechnology with material technology for crafts that must both have a centimeter mass and withstand high acceleration.
The Starshot concept envisions launching a “mothership” carrying about a thousand tiny spacecraft to a high-altitude orbit and then deploying them. Presumably, thousands of this nano ships with centimeter size will be able to cover a big part of that region that is considered habitable.
The precise conditions on Proxima Centauri b remain unclear. But, one hypothesis is that is completely covered in water, as an “ocean world” that has ice continents similar to the Arctic.