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Is it really necessary to look for Earth-like habitable zone planets, when it is likely that the "humans" to reach that planet will be bio-engineered or entirely mechanical by the time we would be exploring "in person?"

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  • $\begingroup$ Your 2nd sentence needs to be improved. Are you saying Humans will be entirely mechanical when we reach the nearest star? That's a little profound and full of uncertainty. Besides, for now, all we can do is look. In the look mode, Earth-likes are the prime targets. If all we can do is see (and just barely do that), looking for planets like our own is a key goal, and I don't see how that can come into question. $\endgroup$ – userLTK Dec 9 '17 at 0:19
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    $\begingroup$ Humans also do things out of curiosity, not only out of expected profit margin. $\endgroup$ – AtmosphericPrisonEscape Dec 9 '17 at 13:24
  • $\begingroup$ As math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/Relativity/SR/Rocket/rocket.html notes, we can get anywhere in the Milky Way in less than 30 years, at least theoretically speaking. $\endgroup$ – user21 Dec 9 '17 at 21:50
  • $\begingroup$ It's kindof misguided, currently the balance of deficit for science has more deficit on our planet, like the water table dissapearing in the wheat bowl thing of america, than finding exoplanets. water shortage is much more newsowrthy! $\endgroup$ – aliential Dec 16 '17 at 18:19
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The possibility of exploring exoplanets is so remote it is not a factor. We are interested in Earth-like planets as there is only one type of planet that we know can support life, and that is the Earth-like ones.

We are interested in Earth-like planets as they may provide a habitat for alien life. The question of "does extra-terrestial life exist" is of intrinsic interest.

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I recently joined a project on exoplanet habitability, and have worked with other physics research in the past. An underlying issue considered by people working in these areas is "does it really matter?" It's a good question, and hard question to answer even for scientists.

You can expand your question to whether astronomy itself is worth studying. I would argue it is (one reason I joined the project).

Exoplanets were discovered relatively recently, making interest in them sky rocket. Just like how astronomers study stars to find how our sun was formed and how it will live out its life, exoplanet research can reveal how our solar system was formed as well as how it might evolve in the future.

In addition to the search for life, simply by observing other systems with different sizes, and in different stages of their formation and evolution, we can better understand our own as well.

As an aside, research for the sake of knowledge is fun! :) But of course it sometimes leads to unexpected yet important discoveries.

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    $\begingroup$ I've edited your answer (then up voted too!). I've tried to keep the same meaning, but expand some of the sentences to make it clearer. Also added some paragraph breaks so it's easier to read. You're welcome to edit further, or rollback if you don't like it. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Dec 11 '17 at 16:53
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Your question comes across as more of a complaint than a true question. Whenever you ask, "Is it really necessary..." it is easy for someone to respond, "Is anything really necessary?" If people are interested in searching for other planets that may be habitable, why not just see what they find? Most people would find it fascinating/interesting if we verified a "second Earth" were truly out there.

You then make a wild assertion using "humans" in scare quotes, assuming that we'd be mechanical or entirely separate entities and therefore only non-human entities. Would you feel the same way if such a planet were less than 5 light years away? 10? 15?

I would suggest that if in the next 100 years we have enough research to show that humans could walk around and breathe on a planet less than 10 light years away, that there won't be anything anyone can do to stop humans from beginning the development phase of ambitious projects to reach that world.

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  • $\begingroup$ Is this a proper stackexchange answer, or a long comment/opinion? If you can't spruce it up with factual information, I'd say delete it and leave a snappy comment instead. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Dec 11 '17 at 16:45

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