Does The Enterprise Orbit

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by T'Girl, Mar 5, 2010.

  1. BK613

    BK613 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Let's consider this from a different direction.
    First, consider the antimatter bomb from Obsession shown here (Trekcore).
    It appears stationary but, unless that thing is sitting above one of the rotational poles, that baby is slowly "orbiting" the rotational axis of the planet at an altitude of 1/3 meter. Now, if the antigrav which is negating gravity were to lose power, the thing would probably fall to the ground.
    Second, consider Stratos, an entire city held aloft by antigravity and also relatively stationary in regards to the ground. And also slowly "orbiting" the planets axis.
    Third, it's not too much of a stretch for the satellites in Operation A towork the same way. ( BTW, whose says they physically deployed them: couldn't they have used the transporter?)
    Finally, we see antigravity deployed easily on both the small and large scale; why would starships NOT have a similar capability? (note: I would expect that the technologies for inertial dampeners and antigrav to be related since they both deal with negating accelerations.)
     
  2. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Which doesn't change the fact that the aircraft has almost no way to control itself without airflow over the wings, and therefore goes into a stall. Certain aicraft with thrust vectoring and/or maneuvering jets--the Harrier series and the Su-37, for example--can perform what is essentially a controlled stall, in much the same way a starship may execute a powered orbit. These still remain technical obstacles that represent the exception, rather than the rule, for how these aircraft are designed to be used.

    I've already explained to you all the reasons why the presence of "antigravs" has nothing to do with newton's third law. If there is a technology that has overcome conservation of momentum, you have yet to mention it (unless you think this is what inertial dampeners are for, but I doubt it).


    You're trying a little too hard. Strictly speaking, I'm orbiting the Earth right now, sitting in this chair. I am in a powered orbit, circularized by the constant thrust of my ass being pushed skyward by the seat at 9.8m/s^2. If I were to jump off the Sears Tower right now, I would still be in orbit, albeit a highly elliptical orbit whose perigee is somewhere close to the Earth's core.

    These conditions are not understood to be "orbits," however, because expanding the use of the term to those situations renders the term utterly meaningless. When that happens, anything can be called an orbit, and you end up having to add qualifiers to differentiate real meaningful circular orbits from the pedantic overuse of your now meaningless word.

    Fortunately, the term "powered orbit" doesn't appear anywhere in Trek dialog. When ships are hovering over a particular spot using antigravs, it appears they are not actually considered to be "orbiting" anything. Barring these few situations that are explicitly NOT normal orbits, it makes more sense to simply refer to them as what they are, as "hovering" positions or "stationkeeping" or something of that nature.
     
  3. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    I like how you move the target just a little each time ;) Since you never mentioned needing to control itself :) As long as we have a military aircraft that has thrust vectoring and better than 1:1 thrust to weight we have a winner. Sure it is stalling, but it will be able to control itself out of the stall and back into "regular" flight. The Harrier doesn't really have enough thrust to go nose up for an extended period of time though, but it can sure hover until runs out of gas (or the engine overheats) while nose forward above the ground...

    Then with all those F-22s and Sukhois out there then that would be alotta exceptions :D

    What specific technology that would be called in TOS? I have no idea. It could be just the Momentum Compensators for all we know. But we have we seen demonstrations of it in action. We've seen it when shuttles and ships stop moving when power is disabled in The Voyage Home. To a lesser extent that is what is implied whenever a ship loses power and drifts to a stop (or gets dropped from orbit.) To a certain extent, the transporters are constantly overcoming (or more specifically, compensating) for it since the ship's orbital velocity can be quite different than the ground velocity at the beam down point. And interestingly, it is only mentioned whenever something seriously goes wrong, so it might be so common that it isn't specifically referenced in daily use.

    From The Enemy Within regarding transporter repair:
    Or perhaps you're ignoring too much? :) You've got your rear interacting directly with the good hard earth. However, that antigrav antimatter bomb was beamed over onto that small planetoid. The transporters had to compensate for the movement of the beam down site for both the people and the bomb. It wouldn't be too hard to see that if they can do that with a common tech like the transporter (which they use all the time) then placing 210 satellites in a 72 mile altitude permanent orbit could also have a little real-world defying help ;) But again, as mentioned before, it could go either way as there wasn't any specific information on the satellites.

    The term that is used in TOS is "synchronous orbit" which in the four cases it has been specifically spoken all refer to staying over a specific point above a planet.
     
  4. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That's what a stall is, dear.

    No, a stall by definition is a lack of control of the aircraft. The trick in the cobra maneuver is accomplished by prolonging the stall as much as possible to bleed off airspeed and then returning to controlled flight later on. Harriers, for their part, aren't designed to use their maneuvering thrusters while in the vertical, so they would have to be modified to do so.

    Regardless, the point here is that modern aircraft have this technical limitation of needing to maintain both airspeed and engine power in order to retain lift. That some radically modified aircraft (and some incredibly crafty pilots) use these technical features in maneuvers only reinforces the rule; likewise, I'm sure that starships may sometimes use antigravs and impulse engines to hover over a particular spot on a planet (as Riker apparently did once) a tactic that would be highly effective only because an opposing starship would be in an inertial orbit and unable to match the maneuver.

    The F-22 cannot. And neither can the Su-37 unless it has a VERY skilled pilot.

    Or it might just be artistic license by the FX team. None of the examples include explicit mention of any technology at work in any of these cases, so short of completely tossing out the laws of physics it makes far more sense to chalk these up to normal drag/compensation factors, especially in spacedock which may or may not be a pressurized environment.

    Which changes what about the scenario in question? Enterprise is in a "Seed orbit," and the satellites are in "permanent orbit." The only thing that changes is the transporters intentionally impart the proper momentum on the satellites to put them in their proper orbit regardless of what orbit Enterprise is in.

    But that's all just speculation, and contradicted by TOS-R where we explicitly see those satellites being dropped from Enterprise' cargo bay.

    But "synchronous orbit" doesn't actually mean "staying over a specific point" this is a reaching implication. Synchronous orbit only PASSES the same point at regular intervals, while STATIONARY orbit remains over the same point at all times.
     
  5. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    Which I've provided an example of a combat aircraft holding a nose up attitude and staying aloft regardless of stall conditions ;) Let's not forget why we got on this tangent.

    I'm going to point out the obvious here. If you have an exception to the rule that in your mind reinforces a rule, then there really isn't a hard rule...

    If the opposing starship is in an inertial orbit and unable to match the maneuver then it already is at a disadvantage. Riker wouldn't need to hide at all :D

    Really? Raptor hover? What's that? ;)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GW2Hvu_mUdU

    Yes, the same artistic license must have happened with poor Excelsior when she lost power and drifted to a stop when attempting to pursue the Enterprise in The Search for Spock.

    Well then the TOS-R version is obviously employing The Voyage Home effect then, since they can drop it and it stays in place. We could say that antigrav keeps it afloat, and momentum compensators (or thrusters, or whatever) worked. Mission accomplished :devil:

    Why not - it wouldn't be the first time the writers played with words - consider it artistic license ;) ? A Geosynchronous orbit happens to be over the equator of the earth. A Synchronous orbit could easily mean stationary above a designated point where a starship would be handy to monitor a landing party.

    Whom Gods Destroy
    The Mark of Gideon
    The Savage Curtain, above the beam down point
    I think the bigger question is whether Star Trek as seen can be shoe-horned into real world physics. I don't think so since the series already allows artificial gravity, anti-gravity, transporters, warp drives, impulse engines, phasers, and a whole bunch of other technologies a free pass as they just work in Star Trek. So if you're really on about technically correct, real world orbits that the Enterprise should be doing - then I'm sure that in some episode somewhere it has done so. And in some other episode the Enterprise just throws that out the window and just hovers :)
     
  6. Mytran

    Mytran Commodore Commodore

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    I think that's an excellent piece of evidence for the use of mass-reducing sub space driver coils in impulse engines (you know, those ones that reduce that mass of the vessel, thus allowing small amounts of thrust to push the craft at high speed?). Once power goes down, mass goes up and the ships slow to an (almost) stop.
     
  7. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Obvious enough to know the exception demonstrates why the rule IS a rule and not just a "tendency." Thermodynamics, for example, works the way it does because energy tends to move from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration. There are all kinds of interactions that can locally break these rules, but OVERALL, the rule still holds.

    That all depends on why he was hiding in the first place. To go back to our airplane example, Su-37s only perform a cobra maneuver in a close turning fight to try and throw off their opponents. The same maneuver from a distance of 25 miles results in you having a missile shoved up your ass, UNLESS you perform the maneuver close to a mountain or something where your sudden lack of movement causes you to blend in with the terrain around you and the other pilot looses his radar lock.

    A bad imitation of a Cobra maneuver performed with the intention of preventing Robert Gates from pulling the funding.:vulcan:

    "Drifted to a stop" relative to what? If "relative to Earth" then Spacedock would have raced over the horizon at orbital velocities while Excelsior settled on a final position over a point on Earth's surface. If "relative to spacedock" then you have to come up with another as-yet unexplained mechanism for how the ship managed to instantly return to Space Dock's orbital velocity irrespective of conservation of momentum.

    In point of fact, the only thing you can say is "relative to the camera," which is indeed a matter of artistic license.

    Otherwise known as "bad science."

    Or we could say that Q farted on the satellites and changed the local laws of physics so they behaved the way they did. Anything is plausible if you're willing to pull solutions completely out of your ass.:vulcan:

    No, a geoSTATIONARY orbit is over the equator. A geosynchronous orbit only CROSSES the equator at a particular point every 24 hours.

    Yes, just as "starship" could easily mean "banana" but, we have no reason to pretend it does.

    Absolutely it can. "Synchronous orbit over [x] city" literally means the Enterprise repeatedly passes over that city at a regular predictable interval. Since stationary orbits ARE NOT POSSIBLE for targets that are not on the equator, we simply assume that a synchronous orbit is sufficient for most landing party operations and even (in the case of "Mirror Mirror") most planetary bombardment scenarios.

    None of which are inconsistent with real-world physics. Real world TECHNOLOGY, yes, but nobody's suggesting the Enterprise is powered by hydrazine and and a panel.

    Now, if you want to suggest that the existence of that technology renders Star Trek incompatible with the real-world laws of physics, that's fine too. I'd be more comfortable if you would just SAY that so I can know where you're coming from, because in my opinion every Trek device probably operates on real-world principles and inconsistencies are the result of their not-being adequately depicted (heavy use of stock footage, etc) or not adequately described (even real astronauts frequently confuse "fuel" and "propellant" in casual conversation).
     
  8. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    True, but it would only apply to any momentum Excelsior acquired while the field was active. She was already at orbital velocity when she departed space dock, and would have RETURNED to orbital velocity if the loss of the mass-reducing field also resulted in a loss of Delta-V.

    I've thought for a while now that might explain how it's possible for starships to drop out of warp in orbit of a planet and already be in orbit. Perhaps all starships have a certain amount of "basic" momentum they acquire from whatever planet they were orbiting when they were activated; when you drop out of warp near another planet, you still have that same momentum, and are therefore still in orbit.
     
  9. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    I'm moving your last paragraph to the beginning since I think this is definitely why you're on about this thread:

    And that was addressed in my prior post.


    It would seem that you are trying to rationalize a real-world explanation for the real-world physics that are in your opinion inadequately depicted in Star Trek. I'm approaching it as if Star Trek depicted a certain technology working in a certain way, despite what real-world physics tells us, I'm okay with that because it's a fictional world.

    Your switching over to phyics - I was replying to your assertion that a plane can't stay up by just pointing up into the sky when there are planes that can do so.

    That isn't even a close comparison. We're talking about two space ships in orbit and one that can't match an orbital maneuver with its own engines. That says lower powered ship and Riker shouldn't bother to try and hide from it.

    It's a HOA demonstration "raptor hover" where the Raptor sits for 8-12 seconds before deciding to pitch forward and slowly fly away. The Cobra is usually a faster maneuver. But again, it is pointing straight up into the sky and not falling back down to earth out of control.

    In a prior post, you tried to rationalize atmospheric drag in the space dock. Now, you're trying to put the hook on Earth's orbit. Which is it? Or neither one? ;)

    Or perhaps it just isn't "Hard Scifi"? Vaporizing phasers, warp drive, impulse engines. You're gonna say they obey real-world physics?

    Don't taunt those Happy Fun Star Trek writers. They did it once with a moon in TNG, so it is possible. It just doesn't really apply to Operation Annihilate... or does it? :rommie:

    Heehee this is fun thread where by no consensus we learn so much more about Trek Tech (or at least how it doesn't conform to real world physics.)
     
  10. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Which is fine, but from that perspective you're looking at a universe where the laws of physics as we understand them either don't apply or apply only in special circumstances. I am not overly interested in discussing that interpretation of the Star Trek universe.

    But Riker didn't outmaneuver the other ship. He avoided its SENSORS using the planet's magnetic pole, which makes bringing it up inapplicable to the example I was using, to illustrate that the fact that powered orbits are possible does not make them preferable or even typical. A more fitting scenario would be, say, two starships at close range and in relatively low orbit trading phaser fire, one suddenly drops into a powered orbit hovering over a particular spot in order to open the range and get into position to fire photon torpedoes.

    I'm trying to clarify what it is you're asking. You said Excelsior came "to a stop" and did not clarify whether it stopped relative to space dock, to Earth, or to the camera, all of which are co-moving objects in this scene. It appears to me it came to a stop relative to the camera, which makes the example somewhat irrelevant. If you're claiming it came to a stop relative to space dock, then you need to explain why your mystery device is slaved to space dock's orbital velocity (as Mytran did in the post below yours). If you're claiming it came to a stop relative to Earth, then you need to explain why Space dock ALSO came to a stop relative to earth.

    Not when the rest of the series consistently strives for a minimum hardness, or at the very least a degree of squishiness that it won't collapse under its own eight. The handful of extremely soft spots found in Trek canon have long been recognized as "scientific errors" and treated as such.

    Yes, bad writing is possible, even writers admit that. It's just not always a good idea.
     
  11. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    Well, d'oh - yeah it's more reverse engineering for me which is incompatible with what you're trying to discuss. Good luck in your methodology then :techman:

    I vaguely remembered the TNG scenario. I had taken a different tack (ignoring the magnetic sensor interference) and was remarking that if both ships were evenly matched in combat, then both would be able to maintain distance since they could both power over to wherever they wanted to go. If they were not evenly matched ships then yes one could power hover to another spot and watch the other ship helplessly not be able to match the maneuver. But if they were not evenly matched, then the ship that could power hover would be already the stronger ship, IMHO.

    The camera is on a slow track pulling back. When the Excelsior lost power and came to a stop it was relative to everything behind it in the short block of time from CH5 0:46:38 to CH5 0:46:42 of about 4 seconds. As far as I'm concerned with that brief scene, nothing moved behind the Excelsior as the camera pulled back and slight up and the Excelsior stopped relative to it's background and the camera.

    If it followed any real-world physics, it would continue drifting forward on momentum. But since it did not, then something else other than "real world physics" is in play. You could choose to ignore it, since you can't really explain for it unless you lean on mass reducing impulse engines - but that would put you in fictional-fantastical territory where powered orbits would be nothing to a starship :D

    The weight of what? The very core of Star Trek Technology (for TOS at least) has avoided a straight comparison to real world science and technology. By cleverly naming stuff phaser, warp drive, impulse engines, transtator, duotronic, multitronic, etc it would be extremely challenging to tie their function, let alone adherence to real world science. And that's a good thing for the writers, but difficult on those who are trying to figure out how it would work if it was built today.

    Heh, we're just getting into different philosophical approaches to figuring out how fictional stuff works. Neither one is better, but I think I have less headaches :)
     
  12. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Though I have no idea what you mean by "reverse engineering" in this context, I get the point. I'm more familiar with Star Trek has a science fiction production, not a fantasy one.
     
  13. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    A miscellaneous bit, it would seem that the US Army also uses "orbit" for circling around as in:

    "As the Apaches orbit counterclockwise..." and "As the Apache continues his orbit and clears..." :)
     
  14. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    In TOS, the ship seems much lower than geosynch--but higher than LEO. I keep thinking it harvests naturally occuring anti-matter in van Allen belts to stay recharged.
     
  15. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^ But that assumes that 1) all planets HAVE van Allen belts or 2) all planets have the same gravitational and rotational properties.

    This being TOS, the stock footage is of the same orbit over every planet regardless, so it's not very useful to use as a datapoint; it's pretty much just an artsy establishing shot that tells us "Ship is in orbit" and not much else.
     
  16. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The ship had the same orbit, regardless of the planet of the week, because that was a stock shot they composited into the rest of the scene, AFAIK.
     
  17. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Earth's atmosphere (and presumably other worlds) doesn't just stop at a certain altitude, it just sort of peters out. The upper most layer of Earth's atmosphere is composed of hydrogen and helium. What the Enterprise could be harvesting while orbiting is hydrogen, The same bussard collector they use during warp flight to collect interstellar gas could be used to collect a portion of a world's upper atmosphere. Given the density, collecting in orbit would be easier.

    :)
     
  18. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The number density of gas atoms/molecules at the Earth's geosynchronous orbit is very low. Also do we believe the ship always orbits opposite to the atmospheric rotation?
     
  19. blssdwlf

    blssdwlf Commodore Commodore

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    Not always. For a while I thought they had it orbit the same as the atmospheric rotation... and then I saw "Court Martial" :D I wonder if there is any correlation between the requested orbits and the FX?
     
  20. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^ No, because they used the exact same FX for every type of orbit in every episode of TOS. The only thing that changed is the color of the planet.