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Re: RE: starship-design: Go Starwisps

In a message dated 6/27/97 3:47:37 PM, lparker@cacaphony.net (L. Parker)
>>I used to agree with this.  But given you can probably gain 
>>about the same amount of info via super sized telescopes, and 
>>the robots would report back for decades (by then the whole 
>>projects likely to be obsolete).  I'm woundering if robot 
>>probes aer very usefull?
>Given sufficiently large and sensitive telescopes in outer space, you may 
>be right. I am not sure that we can find out everything we need to know 
>from telescopes though. We may eventually be able to determine the 
>atmospheric components of extasolar planets teh size of Earth from here, 
>but that sort of resolution is way beyond us now. Of course, the spaceborne 
>infrastructure we would need to construct and launch probes would almost 
>make building such a telescope an afterthought.

Actually their are proposals to start building such scopes now using current
tech.  The idea is to launch hudreds of 1 meter scopes and land them on the
Moon.  Then do a phased array integration of the results.  Effectivly you get
a virtual scope whos lens is as big as the size of the area the group covers.
 Potentionally hudreds of miles across.  You could get aireal photo grade
immages of planets in near by star systems.

>I had envisioned doing both, finding out as much as possible from here 
>with telescopes, then sending a probe mission if there were planets or 
>some other compelling reason to do so. If for instance we can determine 
>that there are indeed planets of near Earth size in the life zone of 
>Tau Ceti, and perhaps even that there was an atmosphere, it is unlikely 
>that we could type all of the components of that atmosphere from here. 
>What if there were just a few ppm of cyanide gas? We wouldn't be able 
>to detect that from here with a crystal ball! But knowing that there 
>was an atmosphere we could send a very basic probe to do initial 
>surveys and maybe some sampling.

I'ld think we could spectral analize the atmosphers about as well from here
as from a small probe.  Besides.  So what if the air was composed of cyanide?
 We can't breath it regardless, and it would still be interesting to study.
 Especially if we saw an ecosystem.

>I agree with your point about timing, but I really don't see any other 
>way of doing it.

You could launch a manned mision with tghe robots as support craft.