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"There is a very good chance that a planet with similar characteristics to Earth can be found in that area of space," says James Jenkins, an academic at the Department of Astronomy (DAS) of the University of Chile and one of the researchers of the Pale Red Dot project. The plan is to focus on the small, reddish star Proxima Centauri - the closest star to the Solar System - from the La Silla Observatory (ESO), located in the Atacama Desert.

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The project will conduct an exhaustive search in order to determine the movements of the star's orbital trajectory, which would demonstrate "the presence of a planet located in what astronomers call the 'habitable zone,'" the researchers explain. "If our expectations are confirmed, such a place would be the new next best spot to investigate the atmospheres of exo-earths and to search for extraterrestrial life," Jenkins confirmed. "With some luck and cutting-edge technology, in the not-so-distant future, we could send a spacecraft to investigate directly, changing humanity forever," he adds.

Previous observations have given indications of a small star orbiting Proxima Centauri, a key reason why this project has been prepared. The follow-up will last until the first week of April and scientists expect concrete results later this year. The intense search will be accompanied by updates on social networks and the answers it will bring are still uncertain, even for the most knowledgeable.

The data collected will allow the astronomers to begin the analysis that will result in a scientific article to be published in a peer-reviewed journal. Once the research has been validated, the results will be published and, based on them, it will be possible to continue building the knowledge that brings us closer to the increasingly remote possibility of inhabiting other planets.

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