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Extrasolar planets.

  1. Jan 15, 2010 #1
    I'm playing devil's advocate here.
    • Why are we bothering with extrasolar planets? (Kepler mission)
    • Why is it so important that we find other earthlike planets?
    • What's motivating NASA to find signs of life elsewhere (Fermi's paradox)?

    -ac
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 15, 2010 #2

    ideasrule

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    • There's absolutely no reason. Humans are curious, and many people, including me, think it's very exciting to find out about other worlds and whether they can harbor life.

      Fermi's paradox is not universally accepted as valid. Even if it is, it clearly doesn't apply to non-intelligent life, which an analysis of extraterrestrial atmospheres would be able to detect once technology improves.
     
  4. Jan 15, 2010 #3

    Chronos

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    It is all about curiousity for sure, that is the motivation of most scientific endeavors. The search for oxygen is particularly interesting. Oxygen is too reactive to persist in any planetary atmosphere without constant replenishment, and photosynthesis is the only known replenishment mechanism. Oxygen is difficult to detect, but, ozone, is relatively easy to detect.
     
  5. Jan 15, 2010 #4
    That's an understatement. The overwhelming count of reducing atoms far outnumbers the oxidizing atomic count in first and second generation star systems. Free oxygen in the atmospere of a planet is only indicative of life--anentropic activity.

    Oxygen is the waste product of life. Carbon is the staff of life. Freeing and preventing oxidation of carbon compounds is the most primitive life activity. Where there is free, cold oxygen, there is life.
     
  6. Jan 16, 2010 #5

    Chronos

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    I mention ozone because that is what we are actually looking for with spectroscopy. It is only expected to exist in the outer atmosphere of exosolar planets with significant amounts of atmospheric oxygen. Ozone is a smoking gun for photosynthesis.
     
  7. Jan 17, 2010 #6
    Looking for and finding for extrasolar planets seems like a futile effort. If they find a planet that is in the "sweet spot, it would probably take us many light-years to get there and longer for the people observing on earth. It would a generational mission, perhaps four generations. What's the point? Or consider the following:
    • did SETI hear something worth looking into?
    • maybe we already have a way to get there and not being told.
     
  8. Jan 17, 2010 #7

    Chronos

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    Its a thirst for knowledge thing. It is unlikely we will ever travel to even the nearest star in the next thousand years. It would be nice to know the best direction before we even contemplate the effort.
     
  9. Jan 17, 2010 #8

    ideasrule

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    (1) Why should getting there be the only goal?
    (2) The first people who studied planetary motion didn't live to see man walk on the Moon or space probes visit other planets. The first people who studied electricity didn't live to see it become the economic backbone of the world. That doesn't mean these endeavors were pointless; we'd still be riding horses without them.

    On the other hand, the inventor of the transistor did witness the start of the information age.
     
  10. Jan 17, 2010 #9
    The http://kepler.nasa.gov/Science/KeplerScience/ScientificGoals/" of Kepler Mission is to determine the frequency of terrestrial and larger planets in or near the "habitable zone" of a wide variety of spectral types of stars.
    The http://marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/science/life/index.html" [Broken] of Martian exploration is to find life or if it was ever there. The search for life elsewhere has intensified. If you google "why are we looking for life elsewhere?", you'll find articles from reputable sources talking about this. This all just "plain old" curiosity?
     
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  11. Jan 17, 2010 #10

    russ_watters

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    I think you misunderstood the question: your previous post implied that traveling to such planets was a goal:
    Ideasrule is asking for the sake of pointing out that trying to visit is not one of the reasons we are currently searching.

    Also, the next part of your post #6 is leaning toward conspiracy theory. Please understand, that is not an acceptable topic for discussion here.
     
  12. Jan 17, 2010 #11
    Thank you, Russ. I'm not leaning toward a conspiracy theory--frankly, they scare me. I'm an amateur astronomer with a great imagination and I enjoy examining possibilities far beyond what data indicates. My imagination is what interested me in astronomy--not the data. My mind does not grow from taking pictures of space with my C8 or spending time at star parties. I've spent the last 25 years doing this and M31 looks the same as it did when I first saw it through my 60mm Jason refractor as a child. I asked if anyone knew what was motivating NASA to look for signs of life elsewhere? It's on their website (that's why I posted links), not my theory.
     
  13. Jan 17, 2010 #12

    russ_watters

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    It really is just plain, ordinary curiosity.
     
  14. Jan 17, 2010 #13
    LOL - Ok Russ, thanks...
     
  15. Jan 17, 2010 #14

    Chronos

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    Curiosity is what sets us apart from other species on this planet. We look at ants and are fascinated by how they interact communaly. A chimp just eats them.
     
  16. Jan 17, 2010 #15
    I agree. Curiosity is one of my strong points which is why I became fascinated by astronomy and particularly exobiology. Curiosity is why I asked the questions that I started this thread with. The point of studying anything is to find out why it puzzles us so much. I guess that after having spent many years as an astronomy-fan (for lack of a better word) you get to the point where you want to find out the point of it all.

    Folks, I'm realizing that I'm in the wrong forum. Although I'm not interested in conspiracy theories, I am interested in contraversial issues (exobilogy, ftl) because--and let's face it--challenges and contraversy is how we grow in scientific knowledge, not simply doing what other scientists have already done. We don't have the data for what I'm interested in now, that's why I'm curious about it.

    To your point, I'm one of those that would really like to observe and if possible, interact with the ants or at least watch them interact. Sometimes I feel like most people around me are afraid to even look for anthills.

    Thanks for your fine responses and your time.

    -Alex
     
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