As we lift our eyes to the night sky, we are faced with hundreds of glorious beaming stars. One of these - a red dwarf star known as Proxima Centauri - is closer than all of them. At "only" 4.2 light years away, it's practically our neighbor, holding the distinction of being the closest star to the Sun. In 2016, astronomers announced a startling discovery regarding the star. Evidence suggested the existence of an unknown planet circling the star's orbit. Journey to the Pale Red Dot examines the process by which scientists hope to get a better look at the planet, and what might lie in store for them when they do.
The planet is slightly larger in mass than our own. Might the planet be home to water, life, and a climate that is hospitable to humans? Scientists believe it's a possibility. The planet occupies the habitable zone of the star, which means it is just close enough to warm the environmental elements needed to sustain life.
Experiments have been launched all around the globe. If one side of the planet faces warming light and the other does not, is it possible that warm gases can travel far enough to thaw the cold and icy half of the planet that remains shrouded in darkness? The film calls upon the findings of these research projects headed up by NASA and other private companies. Over the next decade, a new generation of powerful telescopes will likely lead to even more refined data such as delineating between the planet's light and dark sides and gauging its surface temperatures.
Could we be on the cusp of discovering the existence of extraterrestrial life? The film goes into great detail as it outlines the steps necessary to determine a definitive answer to that question, including plans for the construction of a unique spacecraft that can accommodate our first interstellar journey.
The film raises a series of engrossing possibilities, and grounds them in real science, realistic animations, the latest imagery captured by the powerful Hubble telescope, and a step-by-step outline of previous discoveries have led us to this point.