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Re: starship-design: Studying planets vs. stars

David Levine wrote:
>> From: 	kuo@bit.csc.lsu.edu[SMTP:kuo@bit.csc.lsu.edu]
>> Subject: 	starship-design: Studying planets vs. stars
>> From a scientific point of view, studying planets in other stars
>> systems will be an interesting extension to existing scientific
>> study, but studying other stars will be the birth of a new branch
>> of study--and one which will greatly enrich our understanding of
>> our universe.

>But it is currently possible to do some kinds of studies of other stars
>from home, whereas (at least today) it is impossible to study the
>planets of other solar systems without going there.

This is true, but this fact is double edged.

It's possible to get a lot of information about other stars--even ones
in other galaxies--by looking at them with various telescopes.

That means that we have a lot of information about them already, which
indeed cannot be said about extrasolar planets.

However, it also means that we have a lot of information with which to
deduce the nature of far away stars--if only we had detailed
information about a variety of stars.

Unfortunately, we only have highly detailed information about Sol.
Given the sort of highly detailed information obtainable with manned
missions to nearby star systems, it will be possible to create a
gamut of known star archetypes with which to interpolate and extrapolate
deduced information about far away star systems.

OTOH, highly detailed information about extrasolar planets is not
likely to so fundamentally expand our knowledge base.  Even if it
turns out extrasolar planets are somehow fundamentally different
from solar planets, we don't have enough information gathering
ability on far away planets (especially extragalactic!) to make
as much use of that information.
    _____     Isaac Kuo kuo@bit.csc.lsu.edu http://www.csc.lsu.edu/~kuo
/___________\ "Mari-san...  Yokatta...
\=\)-----(/=/  ...Yokatta go-buji de..." - Karigari Hiroshi