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Old July 27 2014, 08:25 PM   #16
Timo
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Re: Class of Planets

We can probably rest assured that nobody really "understands" the planetary designation system of Trek, least of all the writers themselves. But the backstory of the system is known to some degree, and we can derive our own interpretations based on that.

The backstory starts with Class M, apparently the first designation invented: it designates Earth-like worlds, simply enough, but is also the middle letter in the alphabet. The writers of the original show only added Class K, which is a tad more hostile (inhabitable only with the help of pressure domes, goes the description). But after that, some other writers got and put to use the idea that the more distant a letter from M, the more hostile the world. Hence, Class Y for a really, really hostile world in VOY episode "Demon".

Other letters have been thrown about more or less without plan or concern, but that works to our advantage, as we can be the ones to retroactively invent the plan. And the simplest "plan" is the "original" one: the middle of the alphabet says "best habitable, best exploitable", while the ends describe "not habitable, not exploitable", and the letters in between describe not only decreasing levels of habitability, but also varying levels of exploitability. It isn't a simple scale from Earthlike gravity to crushing or nonexistent, or from Earthlike temperature to scorching or freezing, obviously - it's something realistically complex, something obvious to the futuristic space exploiters of tomorrow who have learned which parameters or parameter combinations really matter when founding a colony...

Timo Saloniemi
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Old July 27 2014, 10:41 PM   #17
LMFAOschwarz
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Re: Class of Planets

Timo wrote: View Post
We can probably rest assured that nobody really "understands" the planetary designation system of Trek, least of all the writers themselves. But the backstory of the system is known to some degree, and we can derive our own interpretations based on that.

The backstory starts with Class M, apparently the first designation invented: it designates Earth-like worlds, simply enough, but is also the middle letter in the alphabet. The writers of the original show only added Class K, which is a tad more hostile (inhabitable only with the help of pressure domes, goes the description). But after that, some other writers got and put to use the idea that the more distant a letter from M, the more hostile the world. Hence, Class Y for a really, really hostile world in VOY episode "Demon".

Other letters have been thrown about more or less without plan or concern, but that works to our advantage, as we can be the ones to retroactively invent the plan. And the simplest "plan" is the "original" one: the middle of the alphabet says "best habitable, best exploitable", while the ends describe "not habitable, not exploitable", and the letters in between describe not only decreasing levels of habitability, but also varying levels of exploitability. It isn't a simple scale from Earthlike gravity to crushing or nonexistent, or from Earthlike temperature to scorching or freezing, obviously - it's something realistically complex, something obvious to the futuristic space exploiters of tomorrow who have learned which parameters or parameter combinations really matter when founding a colony...

Timo Saloniemi
Agree to your points. Also, your use of 'futuristic space explorers of tomorrow' makes me think of things like this...

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Old July 28 2014, 03:09 AM   #18
T'Girl
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Re: Class of Planets

Risa would be a "class F."

(Frisky)

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Old July 28 2014, 04:38 AM   #19
CorporalClegg
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Re: Class of Planets

Frisky is good.
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Old July 28 2014, 06:32 AM   #20
fireproof78
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Re: Class of Planets

This is a fun topic!

The book "Star Trek Star Charts" had one of the better listings of the in-universe planetary classification system, including examples. I could not comment on how accurate the star class system was in it's terms.

Here are some other fun things I found, since I could not find a picture of the examples from the Star Charts:

http://www.startrekmap.com/library/o...anetclass.html

Here's a text based break down of the list found in the book:
http://memory-beta.wikia.com/wiki/Planet
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Old July 28 2014, 12:54 PM   #21
Christopher
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Re: Class of Planets

Unfortunately the Star Charts extrapolation of the planetary class system is based on a fan scheme devised in the '70s or so, and thus has some major problems in light of modern understandings of planetary science -- like listing several classes of gas giant that are larger than most stars (Jupiter's about the largest any gas giant could ever get, because the more mass you pile on, the more the core compresses, and they cancel out) but having no category for Neptune-like ice giants, and assuming that giant planets are only found in the outer portion of a star system, which we now know to be incorrect. Also there's nothing in it about dwarf planets or objects like Europa, Titan, and Pluto which are made primarily of ice.

Back in 2006 I proposed an alternative classification scheme that incorporates all the canonical classes and tries to acknowledge more modern planetary science for the rest:

http://www.trekbbs.com/showpost.php?...7&postcount=13
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Old July 28 2014, 02:39 PM   #22
USS Excelsior
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Re: Class of Planets

Also there's no inclusion for Hot Jupiters, Ice Giants, Waterworlds, Super Earth's, etc.
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Old July 28 2014, 03:48 PM   #23
Christopher
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Re: Class of Planets

^All of which I try to accommodate in my alternate scheme, as put forth in the link.
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Old July 28 2014, 05:40 PM   #24
fireproof78
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Re: Class of Planets

Christopher wrote: View Post
Unfortunately the Star Charts extrapolation of the planetary class system is based on a fan scheme devised in the '70s or so, and thus has some major problems in light of modern understandings of planetary science -- like listing several classes of gas giant that are larger than most stars (Jupiter's about the largest any gas giant could ever get, because the more mass you pile on, the more the core compresses, and they cancel out) but having no category for Neptune-like ice giants, and assuming that giant planets are only found in the outer portion of a star system, which we now know to be incorrect. Also there's nothing in it about dwarf planets or objects like Europa, Titan, and Pluto which are made primarily of ice.

Back in 2006 I proposed an alternative classification scheme that incorporates all the canonical classes and tries to acknowledge more modern planetary science for the rest:

http://www.trekbbs.com/showpost.php?...7&postcount=13
Well, that will be an interesting read. Thank you for sharing!
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