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Need Help Developing Background Infor For Science Fiction Property

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Hello everyone. New to the board here, and I was hoping someone would be able to give me a hand in developing some of the background information for a science fiction property I am developing. While the information I need isn't strictly relevant to the plot of the story, I want to lay as realistic of a backdrop as possible.

 

This is the basic information:

 

It is 100-200 years into the future. We have developed faster than light travel to the degree that it's possible to travel ~100 light years in 6 months' time. The major space agencies of the Earth have been combined into a single central agency. This agency has spent decades building and proving a line of 15 starships and developed a detailed mission itinerary for them to each visit and study dozens of nearby star systems.

 

These ships carry a command crew, engineering team, and technicians who are responsible for the day to day operations of the ship, logistics of the mission itinerary, and distribution of resources. In addition, each ship carries ~500 scientists from a wide array of specialties -- astrophysics, geography, biology, etc.

 

You are the person in charge of planning the missions. Each ship, in addition to its crew and its compliment of science specialists, carries a dozen or more smaller craft. In a general sense, the ship will enter a star system, chart it, and then discharge several manned craft to more closely study individual aspects of the system.

 

The question: as scientists, what kind of information are we looking for? For instance, what data or observations from this mission would be exciting or useful to an astrophysicist? To a geologist? Etc. What kind of experiments might you want to conduct?

 

I don't suspect any one person will be able to provide a comprehensive list, but I'm hoping enough people with more scientific training than I have will be able to run off a few things that would be of interest to their particular field of study.

 

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!

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