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View Full Version : If we could visit an inhabited planet, but inhospitable to us, what would we do?



potoole
2012-Sep-11, 05:26 AM
By inhabited, I mean inhabited by intelligent creatures. Perhaps as intelligent as us.
By inhospitable, I mean we humans could not survive in the planet's environment.

How would we humans handle such a situation? Certainly we would need protection from a toxic atmosphere.

How would we introduce ourselves to the sentient beings?

PO'T :confused:

ravens_cry
2012-Sep-11, 06:29 PM
We'd find a way to say hi.
Just how and what kind of inhospitable?
A suitably built telepresence robot could very likely allow some form of interaction.
How technological are they? An Apollo-Soyuz Test Project style hello, but each stays in their spacesuits could also work.

potoole
2012-Sep-11, 06:56 PM
We'd find a way to say hi.
Just how and what kind of inhospitable?
A suitably built telepresence robot could very likely allow some form of interaction.
An Apollo-Soyuz Test Project style hello, but each stays in their spacesuits could also work.

Too much O2, not enough O2, a toxic atmosphere to us, but not to an ecosystem that evolved in that environment. There could be planets on which life exists that suits that planet's conditions, or vica-verca.

How technological are they? Let's say, about as scientifically advanced as we are, but who knows what kind of culture they would have. Maybe they look at the stars and wonder if there are others out there.

PO'T

swampyankee
2012-Sep-11, 07:32 PM
Environment suits. We've got them for vacuum, and we have them for high pressure (http://www.sub-find.com/newt_suit.htm). If that won't work, tele-presence.

Ara Pacis
2012-Sep-11, 07:38 PM
We can survive in space and underwater with appropriate suits, so I don't understand the problem.

ravens_cry
2012-Sep-11, 09:14 PM
Too much O2, not enough O2, a toxic atmosphere to us, but not to an ecosystem that evolved in that environment. There could be planets on which life exists that suits that planet's conditions, or vica-verca.

Nothing there we couldn't handle with existing technology.
The hardest right now would be deep (Galileo crushing deep) within a gas giant with massive Van Allen belts preventing telepresence, though the ASTP option is still potentially available.


How technological are they? Let's say, about as scientifically advanced as we are, but who knows what kind of culture they would have. Maybe they look at the stars and wonder if there are others out there.
PO'T
In that case, a meeting in space sounds doable.

potoole
2012-Sep-12, 12:48 AM
We can survive in space and underwater with appropriate suits, so I don't understand the problem.

Okay, no problem.

Jens
2012-Sep-12, 01:37 AM
Maybe they look at the stars and wonder if there are others out there.

PO'T

But on the other hand, I suppose if they have quite a heavy planet and thick cloud cover, they might never have even seen stars, and might not know there is anything beyond their own atmosphere.

ravens_cry
2012-Sep-12, 03:30 AM
But on the other hand, I suppose if they have quite a heavy planet and thick cloud cover, they might never have even seen stars, and might not know there is anything beyond their own atmosphere.

I've wondered that too. Our initial understanding of the laws of gravity came from needing to understand the motions of our fellow planets. Would this lack of visibility hinder that development?

Jens
2012-Sep-12, 04:07 AM
I've wondered that too. Our initial understanding of the laws of gravity came from needing to understand the motions of our fellow planets.

It's sort of interesting that you say that. It's true I think that our understanding of the laws of gravity came from studying the planets, but in fact there isn't any need for it. If anything, the useful application would seem to be in the firing of cannons or artillery at long distance. I wonder why.

ravens_cry
2012-Sep-12, 05:06 AM
It's sort of interesting that you say that. It's true I think that our understanding of the laws of gravity came from studying the planets, but in fact there isn't any need for it. If anything, the useful application would seem to be in the firing of cannons or artillery at long distance. I wonder why.
Trouble is ,there is more forces at work there than just gravity, especially with such a thick atmosphere. The Coriolis effect, wind resistance, all make things much more messy.
For at least initial studies, only one force needs to be taken into account, gravity when studying planetary motion. It's a much more pure system that I would think would make discerning the base laws much simpler.
Still, it could happen, and the idea of just what they would theorize and how this would affect them technologically could make an intriguing science fiction story.

potoole
2012-Sep-12, 07:34 PM
Trouble is ,there is more forces at work there than just gravity, especially with such a thick atmosphere. The Coriolis effect, wind resistance, all make things much more messy.
For at least initial studies, only one force needs to be taken into account, gravity when studying planetary motion. It's a much more pure system that I would think would make discerning the base laws much simpler.
Still, it could happen, and the idea of just what they would theorize and how this would affect them technologically could make an intriguing science fiction story.

Then during one rotation of their planet, a strange craft bursts through the heavy clouds, lands on planet's surface, and some strange creatures climb out of it. Where did they come from? Is there life on the other side of those clouds? What The Heck?

ravens_cry
2012-Sep-12, 08:34 PM
Then during one rotation of their planet, a strange craft bursts through the heavy clouds, lands on planet's surface, and some strange creatures climb out of it. Where did they come from? Is there life on the other side of those clouds? What The Heck?
Hopefully, we'd try something slightly less invasive first. If we find signs of radio technology, we could try transmitting something for example. If not, an unmanned probe near obvious populations centres with various greetings could also be a step.
Whatever we do, if they don't know about the greater universe, it's going to be startling for them.

Grey
2012-Sep-12, 08:52 PM
Then during one rotation of their planet, a strange craft bursts through the heavy clouds, lands on planet's surface, and some strange creatures climb out of it. Where did they come from? Is there life on the other side of those clouds? What The Heck?And then, once they find out that there's a universe beyond the clouds, they decide, "It'll have to go", and embark on a quest to exterminate everything in the universe. (http://hitchhikers.wikia.com/wiki/Krikkit) ;)

Maur
2012-Sep-12, 11:58 PM
And then, once they find out that there's a universe beyond the clouds, they decide, "It'll have to go", and embark on a quest to exterminate everything in the universe. (http://hitchhikers.wikia.com/wiki/Krikkit) ;)
I actually read an really old sf novel about such scenario, with Venus having generally more advanced civilization except without astronomy (the clouds, obviously), contacted by earthlings, and then proceeded to wipe out the Earth.

It was quite fun novel.

Jens
2012-Sep-13, 12:30 AM
It was quite fun novel.

For the Venusians, perhaps. Probably not for the earthlings. :)

glappkaeft
2012-Sep-13, 12:38 AM
And then, once they find out that there's a universe beyond the clouds, they decide, "It'll have to go", and embark on a quest to exterminate everything in the universe. (http://hitchhikers.wikia.com/wiki/Krikkit) ;)

I see someone else has read "The Killing Star"...

ravens_cry
2012-Sep-13, 01:29 AM
Would a balloon be able to get high enough to get above the clouds on such a world? They might already know about the greater universe.

Noclevername
2012-Sep-13, 01:39 AM
Would a balloon be able to get high enough to get above the clouds on such a world? They might already know about the greater universe.

Balloons can reach the upper edge of Earth's atmosphere, far above any cloud on this planet. Unless the other world has totally opaque gasses from top to bottom, it seems like they could send balloons above the cloud level.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-altitude_balloon

ravens_cry
2012-Sep-13, 03:45 AM
Yeah, I thought so. Assuming, and this is a big one as balloons could potentially be developed by very basic technological societies, they develop balloons around when (and if) they created the modern scientific method, I wonder how long it would take them to realize just how far, and what, stars are. Heck, what their sun is for that matter.

Maur
2012-Sep-13, 05:41 AM
For the Venusians, perhaps. Probably not for the earthlings. :)
Eeeh, actually, the novel was about events some time after the invasion with remnants of humanity striking back...

(although not nearly amusing as the novel where the humanity strikes back by boarding the spaceships of huge aliens that conquered earth. Boarding rat-style, that is. Onwards, we go to colonize news worlds as pests!. That was fun! :D)

Colin Robinson
2012-Sep-13, 08:34 AM
I see someone else has read "The Killing Star"...

I thought the "It'll have to go" reference was to the beginning of the Krikkit Wars in Douglas Adams' book "Life, the Universe and Everything", first published in 1982... If there's a similar scenario in "The Killing Star" (1995), maybe its authors were influenced by Adams?

Paul Wally
2012-Sep-13, 11:18 AM
"We" could perhaps first find some remote location on the planet, like an island, to set up a base camp. Or we could first send down a group of anthropologists to study the locals from a camouflaged building, trying not to blow our cover and violate the prime directive :), as in Star Trek Next Generation, "Who watches the watchers".

Grey
2012-Sep-13, 02:31 PM
I thought the "It'll have to go" reference was to the beginning of the Krikkit Wars in Douglas Adams' book "Life, the Universe and Everything", first published in 1982... If there's a similar scenario in "The Killing Star" (1995), maybe its authors were influenced by Adams?Indeed, and you can see that I linked to the Hitchhikers' Guide Wiki, just in case anyone wasn't familiar with it. I'm amused to see that there are apparently several other stories that explore similar themes.

Ara Pacis
2012-Sep-13, 07:19 PM
Indeed, and you can see that I linked to the Hitchhikers' Guide Wiki, just in case anyone wasn't familiar with it. I'm amused to see that there are apparently several other stories that explore similar themes.

It's why we haven't contacted that one last tribe in the Amazon that doesn't know about modern global humanity.

eburacum45
2012-Sep-14, 08:18 PM
I'd recommend that the Earth explorers make some sort of robot that does not look too dissimilar to the inhabitants, and send that in as an avatar to attempt first contact. The problem would be, how would you avoid offending their sense of weirdness, that might be finely tuned to the appearance of creatures like themselves? there might be some sort of 'uncanny valley' for aliens that we might dismally fail to bridge.

If they are instinctively aware of what another member of their own species looks like, then a human imitation of that expectation might be even more scary than simply sending in a human in a spacesuit.

IsaacKuo
2012-Sep-14, 09:30 PM
I'd recommend against it, because of "uncanny valley" concerns, and generally because it may be viewed as a threat filling the same niche as the local intelligent creatures. I think a better idea would be some sort of humanoid robot designed to look like us. If that happens to look vaguely like the locals in some ways, then so be it.

The main reason I recommend making robots that look like us has to do with us, not them. It's very human to want to make humanoid robots. Making our representative robots look like us communicates something deep and important about us. It's part of what makes us humans human. Whether what this says about us is "bad" or "good" (we're self centered; we honor our cultural legacy)...well, it says something about us as we are--not as we might second guess aliens might want to see us.

eburacum45
2012-Sep-15, 11:34 AM
Perhaps a robot which was an idealised version of a human would be the best idea, then. Or a biological construct designed to look like a human but capable of surviving in the local environment. Another possibility is a robot designed to vaguely resemble the locals, but that is obviously non-biological.

In the original story 'Farewell to the Master', which was made into the film The Day The Earth Stood Still,the 'human' being Klaatu appears to be some kind of artificial construct designed for first contact. This didn't stop it from being shot to death almost immediately.

Ara Pacis
2012-Sep-15, 07:37 PM
I'd go with a non-biological looking robot, simple and rugged, that looked more like Curiosity. If we assume the locals are smart enough to know an automaton when they see one, it may be less freaky and paranoia inducing than a robot that closely resembles and is trying to emulate a life-form, even different types of life-forms. That robot can carry and deliver a picture book with images of humans and whatever else you want.

ravens_cry
2012-Sep-15, 07:49 PM
Yeah, that could work if they are industrialized in some capacity. If they aren't however, I personally would find that (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mars_Science_Laboratory_Curiosity_rover.jpg)c oming toward me pretty freaky.

Ara Pacis
2012-Sep-15, 10:12 PM
Yeah, that could work if they are industrialized in some capacity. If they aren't however, I personally would find that (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mars_Science_Laboratory_Curiosity_rover.jpg)c oming toward me pretty freaky.

Depends on what you mean by "industrial". I suspect the ancient greeks would understand it since they made clockwork artifacts. I'd suspect that any culture that uses tools would be able to abstract the device as being a tool instead of mistaking it for an organism.

ravens_cry
2012-Sep-15, 10:46 PM
Depends on what you mean by "industrial". I suspect the ancient greeks would understand it since they made clockwork artifacts. I'd suspect that any culture that uses tools would be able to abstract the device as being a tool instead of mistaking it for an organism.
Depending on the type of technology, the two may be indistinguishable.
Also, even if they recognise it's not an organism does not mean they don't think it a threat.

Ara Pacis
2012-Sep-15, 11:17 PM
Depending on the type of technology, the two may be indistinguishable.That's why I stated technology that looks like something mechanical (like Curiosity) as opposed to something that looks organic.


Also, even if they recognise it's not an organism does not mean they don't think it a threat.That's a different issue. I didn't say it wouldn't be a threat, just that it wouldn't be the same sort of threat as something that's made to look like them. If they have similar psychology to us, they may find the Uncanny Valley to induce more paranoia than just something that's obviously a mechanical explorer probe if you want to initiate first contact. If you don't want to initiate first contact, then camouflage may be a better option.

ravens_cry
2012-Sep-16, 07:17 PM
Something like that might create more paranoia if they mistake it for a weapon.

Ara Pacis
2012-Sep-16, 09:29 PM
Something like that might create more paranoia if they mistake it for a weapon.

Possibly, but if they are able to perceive it as a weapon, then they also have the ability to abstract that it's non-biological and alien and possible a large number of other things that are not weapons. If we send it with a spear and atlatl, then all bets are off.

ravens_cry
2012-Sep-16, 11:21 PM
Possibly, but if they are able to perceive it as a weapon, then they also have the ability to abstract that it's non-biological and alien and possible a large number of other things that are not weapons. If we send it with a spear and atlatl, then all bets are off.
Maybe we should send gold tablets with gold spectacles to help translate.:whistle:

IsaacKuo
2012-Sep-18, 07:37 AM
See, I think all of this second guessing is not really helpful. I stand by my original suggestion of a humanoid representative. If the aliens react to it negatively, then at least they'll be reacting to us being human, rather than us trying to pretend to be something we're not.

Githyanki
2012-Sep-24, 05:52 PM
Well, inhabited by what? We should study, observe and prepare. The good news that if they are inhospitable to us, Earth is probably inhospitable to them.

ravens_cry
2012-Sep-24, 07:31 PM
Well, inhabited by what? We should study, observe and prepare. The good news that if they are inhospitable to us, Earth is probably inhospitable to them.
Not necessarily, some extremophile do about as well in more than one environment, though it does seem likely.
And from what I've gathered from the OP, they are a fairly technologically advanced planet bound species.

iquestor
2012-Sep-25, 01:56 AM
Fall Back, Nuke The Site from Orbit. Its the only way to be sure. :)

MaDeR
2012-Sep-25, 10:40 AM
Yeah, that could work if they are industrialized in some capacity. If they aren't however, I personally would find that (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mars_Science_Laboratory_Curiosity_rover.jpg)c oming toward me pretty freaky.
How someone would react on that (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNZPRsrwumQ)?

iquestor
2012-Sep-25, 11:46 AM
maybe if the first contact was by an immobile lander that was designed to convey that it is non-threatening (based on what we can glean from their culture) and educate the inhabitants on our presence and intentions. It would be good to provide them some gift or some service that they could not otherwise easily obtain (again, based on their culture) as a way to demonstrate our capabilties and good will. then move forward with a more mobile avatar to interact and move about among them when they understand who we are and what our intentions are.

Ara Pacis
2012-Sep-25, 05:08 PM
Maybe we should make it look like a rock, or a burning bush.

iquestor
2012-Sep-25, 08:20 PM
Maybe we should make it look like a rock, or a burning bush.
A burning bush with a hidden speaker, perhaps?

Ara Pacis
2012-Sep-26, 06:27 AM
A burning bush with a hidden speaker, perhaps?

Natch.

Githyanki
2012-Oct-03, 01:38 AM
TAKE OFF, Nuke The ENTIRE Site from Orbit. It's the only way to be sure. :)

Just for accuracy :)

iquestor
2012-Oct-03, 01:57 AM
Just for accuracy :)

:D

ravens_cry
2012-Oct-03, 07:47 PM
How someone would react on that (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNZPRsrwumQ)?
That, also, would be pretty freaky.
Heck, that *is* a little freaky.

Luckmeister
2012-Oct-03, 07:54 PM
It would be good to provide them some gift or some service that they could not otherwise easily obtain (again, based on their culture) as a way to demonstrate our capabilties and good will. then move forward with a more mobile avatar to interact and move about among them when they understand who we are and what our intentions are.

If they accurately assess our intentions, it may not make them happy. Judging by human history, our intentions will likely be to conquer them, eat them, enslave them, make pets out of them, sell things to them or convert them to our favorite religion. None of those would be obvious in first contact but human xenophobic tendencies, greed and propensity to dominate would likely kick in before long which causes me to question whether contact with ET would be a positive thing.

I first saw the original release of The Day the Earth Stood Still in my impressionable early teen years and I guess it helped leave an indelible mark on my expectations for human behavior. I hope my negativity is ill-conceived.

ravens_cry
2012-Oct-03, 08:31 PM
The fact we can conceive of abhorring such behaviour tells me that, while such behaviour is possible, it is by no means certain.