Exploring the Stars

The most exciting prospects for remote observation from the space station exist for astronomy, because in this case, besides the possibility of using large telescopes at will, there are two other advantages: the radiations from the stars arrive completely unweakened and undistorted, and the sky appears totally black. Thus, for example, the latter condition would permit carrying out all those observations of the sun that can be performed on the Earth only during a total solar eclipse by simply occulting the solar disk using a round black screen.

Our entire solar system including all its planets, planetoids, comets, large and small moons, etc. could be studied down to the smallest detail. Even both ("inner") planets, Venus and Mercury, which are close to the sun could be observed just as well as the more distant ("outer") planets, observations that are not possible from the Earth due to dawn and dusk, a problem already mentioned. Therefore, the surfaces of at least all the near celestial bodies (Moon, Venus, Mars, Mercury), as far as they are visible to us, could be precisely studied and topographically mapped by remote photography. Even the question of whether the planets are populated, or at least whether they would be inhabitable, could probably be finally decided in this manner.

The most interesting discoveries would, however, presumably be made in the world of the fixed stars. Many unsolved puzzles at these extreme distances would be solved, and our knowledge of the functioning of the world would be considerably enhanced, perhaps even to a degree that it would then be possible to draw conclusions with absolute certainty about the past and the future fate of our own solar system, including the Earth.

Besides their immediate value, all of these research results would also have, however, the greatest significance for the future development of space travel, because when the conditions in those regions of space and on those celestial bodies at which our travel is aiming are exactly known to us, then a trip to outer space would no longer venture into the unknown, and therefore would lose some of its inherent danger.

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