The discovery of exoplanets is happening at a pace similar to popcorn popping, and they are finding them closer and closer to Earth size and the level of detail they can figure out about them is amazing. Then again, they could be completely wrong about any given place, we’ll never know till we get there. Which will be a long damned time from now.
The newest flavor of the month, Kepler-186f, in the constellation Cygnus (The Swan) is only about 10 percent bigger than Earth. It’s sun is smaller than our own, by quite a bit, but it’s in the habitable zone of proximity. So, a little bit heavier gravity, dark and damp, and (don’t ask me how they know this), everything there looks kind of orange. So, a bit like Detroit.
But, it’s 500 light years away. So, traveling at the top speed we can reach today, it would take about 5,000 years to get there, and we still don’t have the kind of ships which can sustain generations of Earth colonists.. Or immortality, or cryogenics. I suspect that computers with human personality implants will be running the first ships out, but then the ships will have to contain carefully stored, grade A sperm and eggs, in order to populate the alien planet, which will be a relly weird life for them.
Even if we fire a message off into that direction in space, it will take 500 years to get here, and the same amount of time for them to send a message back, unless they have progressed farther than we now think physically possible, and only if they think we’re worth talking to, and they don’t just send a ship to blast us out of space, like Vogons.
Nonetheless, I think we ought to be getting ready to go. It’s our best bet so far.