Originally posted by finnegan
If there were not planets around most stars it would surely be more surprising? Why would our solar system be unique? Even within that, several of our planets including Earth have satellites.
The main problem is our planet detection instruments are still to primitive to catch Earth mass planet except for the closest stars but a lot of planets are still ending up very very close to it's star, putting the surface temperature in the thousands of degrees. Most of those found are Jupiter mass or greater, very close to its sun.
The fact that our solar system has this system of planets that seems logical, small rocky core planets near the sun and gas giants way out made us think that would be how the average vanilla solar system should work.
So far, we have been wrong about that basic assumption.
But we have to get instruments much more sensitive in several ways to get the whole picture and we may not really get the whole picture till we physically visit some of them to get a complete picture of what a particular solar system is like, planet wise.
I have always said the obvious first choice for an interstellar probe is Alpha Centauri, since you get a 3 for 1 deal, 3 stars in close proximity, 1/10th ly apart max and the two brightest ones only a few billion miles apart so you get 3 stars for the price of one, an ideal first stop for any probe, manned or unmanned and they are only 4.3 ly away.
A no brainer.