Regenerative Shields

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Crazy Eddie, Mar 13, 2009.

  1. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Nobody has ever explained what regenerative shields are supposed to do, though one theory floating around is that the shield generators borrow from replicator technology and "regenerate" themselves when damaged; OTOH, this presumes that the reason shields loose power when taking damage is that the shield generators themselves become damaged, and that doesn't seem to fit IMO.

    Then I'm looking over some old TMP blueprints and finding that the deflector systems on the Enterprise apparently bare the entire load of enemy weapons energy--to the point of overloading drastically--until that energy can be re-radiated back into space away from the ship. In a way you might think of this as a kind of ablative lightning rod that captures and then dissipates any energy striking the ship, and is good enough that even the kinetic energy of projectile weapons can be deflected elsewhere.

    So what if reintegrative shields are similar to, say, regenerative brakes? It's a new shield system that, instead of re-radiating that energy out into space, actually captures incoming weapon energy and stores it in a capacitor for use by, say, phaser banks or structural integrity or some such? Not that this would necessarily make the shields more effective (it clearly doesn't) but it might make the ship itself more efficient by reducing the load on the fusion reactors and other power systems normally used in combat.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Vanyel

    Vanyel The Imperious Leader Premium Member

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    My own theory on regenerative shields is that the shields work like any other type of shield. The shields we've seen have been regenerative to an extent. The shield generators are brought back online (The Way of the Warrior), reassembled (The Survivors) or simply restrengthened (adding warp power to the shields like in Hero Worship or The Nth Degree). In my theory shields spread the force of the energy or the impact over the entire shield area; regenerative shields do that as well and they use some of that energy redirect it to the generators and use it to strengthen the shields. The more hits the shields take the more energy the generators are able to store and use to repower themselves. Eventually the generators do receive to much damage that they can no longer recharge and the shields fail.
     
  3. Bounty

    Bounty Commander Red Shirt

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    Or perhaps it's a two-tiered system - an outer layer that needs to be actively powered, designed to physically block kinetic strikes (micrometeorites, torpedoes) and scatter focused energy attacks, bouncing as much as possible of both back into space; and an inner layer that captures any energy bleeding through and diverts it into capacitors that then reradiate that energy back into space, and which regenerative shields, as per your theory, use to power whichever system needs a boost. Depending on the situation, the efficiency of each layer can be adjusted; the physical barrier can be weakened and its projectors used to store energy for the inner layer, or the inner layer can be used as an extra battery, fed from the ship's own power source, to strengthen the outer layer. Depending on wether you plan to crash a lot or fly through a star.

    I've always found it odd that you can make a system that supposedly absorbs energy "stronger" by pumping more energy into it. Wouldn't it be the reverse? That in the thick of battle engineers would be scrambling to take a load off the shield system so it has room to absorb more attacks?

    You've got an interesting idea there at least. A shield system that gets stronger the more you shoot at it. How annoying for people shooting at you.
     
  4. Timelord Victorious

    Timelord Victorious Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's been done sort of. In the Booby Trap TNG episode. It wasn't shields but an energy field. But should be adaptable for shield technology by making it a more passiv system, if anyone could get their hands on one of the generators. Getting near it is kind of tricky though.
     
  5. Bounty

    Bounty Commander Red Shirt

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    I suppose a battery-powered craft using chemical thrusters, passive radiation shielding and a mechanical life support system could get close enough to investigate the asteroids and find the off-switch. It'll be a tricky job, but not an impossible one.
     
  6. nx1701g

    nx1701g Admiral Admiral

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    Wasn't it said in an episode of TNG that the regenerative shields rechannel the energy into the ship and use it to help power shipboard systems? I think that it was in The Defector.
     
  7. JNG

    JNG Chief of Staff, Starfleet Command

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    As far as I can see, the were never mentioned in TNG at all, and it's never been said anywhere how they work. I'm irritated that the Memory Alpha page contains a bunch of unattributed speculation on that, which isn't labeled as such.
     
  8. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Technically, the shields don't need more power to become stronger; apparently they need more power to REMAIN strong when they've been strained and overloaded. Possibly they need more power to coolant systems that keep the field generators from overheating, but the result is still that they can only take so much punishment before you can't put enough power into them to keep them intact.

    Regenerative shields wouldn't route that power back into the shield generators, but probably back to whatever system needed them.
     
  9. shipfisher

    shipfisher Commander Red Shirt

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    I've always been more confused about how non-regenerative shields lose integrity steadily while under fire. You'd think an energetic barrier would be all or nothing - ie. at 100% right up untill it took a hit big enough to overload and knock out the shield generation system.

    Is a deflector shield a sort of matrix form like a transport pattern? If so, once formed, does it deflect all energy input, including that intended to re-inforce its matrix? I can see something like that degrading as per usual dramatic ramp-up in trek battles.

    You could also see how things like ablative armour (which you'd hope could be replicated in place if its worth much) and holo-armour would be a sort of progression from standard shields - something similar, but condensed down into a layer right on the hull.
     
  10. Cary L. Brown

    Cary L. Brown Rear Admiral

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    That's sort of what I was thinking... instead of "wasting" the energy, the captured energy and converts it into useable form.

    The only real issue is... is that energy distributed to the ship as a whole or just used to power the shield system?
     
  11. JoeZhang

    JoeZhang Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Shields never made much sense to me to start with.

    Surely as soon as someone stops firing shields go back to 100% as they are a function of power output?
     
  12. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The only way shields could possibly make sense is if they loose strength as a result of the field coils or something experiencing mechanical stress from deflecting incoming energy and having to physically dump that excess energy in the form of waste heat in order to regain their strength. That's sort of what I always figured those big "emergency flush vents" on the nacelle pylons were for, venting huge amounts of coolant gas trying to take the load off the deflector generators.
     
  13. Cary L. Brown

    Cary L. Brown Rear Admiral

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    Not necessarily... I think of them more like capacitors... energy stored in a form which, in this case, creates a "virtual hull" outside the real hull. Like a capacitor, if you turn off the power, it will eventually discharge. And if you use it, you have to recharge it.
     
  14. JNG

    JNG Chief of Staff, Starfleet Command

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    Yes, it seems that they create this strange localized spatial distortion and have to "discharge" a percentage for every unit of time they are providing protection above a certain level. It seems they have to be off to be cycled so that they may return to 100% capacity, although physical damage to the grid that projects the shields or to the generators can factor into it as well.

    The operating principles for these gravity-based shields are somewhat exotic; it may be only for dramatic reasons that they are not depicted as a continuous-output device but rather one that can discharge and be exhausted in a crisis when there is no time to cycle them. I don't think it is especially hard to rationalize by Trek Tech standards, though.
     
  15. shipfisher

    shipfisher Commander Red Shirt

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    So some aspect of the shield generation system must be charged to a certain potential (we can assume these components are maintained at 100% potential so the shields are available on demand) and these discharge during use. Recharge is probably taking place constantly but at a rate too slow to keep pace with the demands of continued attacks.

    Perhaps regenerative systems have simply eliminated the recharge lag, though the ability to absorb and utilize the energy of incoming weapons fire would be handy (and sort of "green" as well - Al Gore would love it).
     
  16. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    Let's get the canonicity issue right, shall we?

    I believe the only place where regenerative shields are mentioned on screen is in VOY "Message in a Bottle", as one of the tactical systems aboard the experimental Prometheus. They are not described there - and they are not specified as being experimental or otherwise new, either. They are part of a list that is given by the ship's computer and rudely interrupted in mid-run by the EMH:

    We don't know if those things are mundane or exotic. The MVAM is a novelty, and the EMH immediately queries on it. But the EMH does not query on either regenerative shielding or ablative armor, so both might be known and common quantities aboard all or most starships. And the list doesn't seem to go from more exotic to more common, judging by the way the EMH's interruption is timed - and is unlikely to go from more common to more exotic, either, because then things like phasers and torpedoes should have come first. Essentially, we're looking at a random order, then.

    The TNG Tech Manual would have us believe that all starships and specifically the E-D have ablative armor to some degree. DS9 dialogue, OTOH, would have us think that the ablative armor on the Defiant was news to Captain Benteen. Yet perhaps it was merely the amount of armor on that ship? All warships today are armored, in the sense of having metal or at least glassfiber plates against the elements. Yet very few carry so much of that metal or other material that it would make a difference in battle. Perhaps it's the same deal with (ablative) armor and (regenerative) shields - every ship has those, but the balance is different in different ships?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  17. JNG

    JNG Chief of Staff, Starfleet Command

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    ^

    Another appearance in the canon:

    Neelix mentions the Numiri use regenerative shielding (ON THEIR BORING ALREADY-SEEN-A-MILLION-TIMES-HALF-A-GALAXY-AWAY-TRIANGLE-SHIPS), and notes that it might give them the edge in a firefight. This would seem to imply Voyager does not have shields that can be described this way, or I imagine Janeway would have responded differently to this comment.
     
  18. kent

    kent Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    i would assume that regenerative shielding technology absorbes some of the incoming fire and uses it to charge the shield generators themselves, while bleeding of excess incoming fire into space. It's the most logical explanation.

    As for ablative armore...in the 2360's, perhaps ships were equipped with armor, but not armor that works like the armor of the USS defiant. Perhaps it's much less efficient, absorbes less firepower, doesn't bleed incoming fire into space, etc.

    The Defiant's armor could be a new technology based off previous....
     
  19. Neutrino

    Neutrino Lieutenant

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    Mr Data tells Picard "the ventral shielding is failing" to which Picard replies "redistribute power from the aft shield to the ventral shield".

    Now with regenerative shielding that's not required, the ship automatically redistributes power to the shield areas so that the entire shield maintains equal strength throughout.
     
  20. EmperorTiberius

    EmperorTiberius Captain Captain

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    I thought it meant that they were double redundant? I.E. speculation that there are two sets of generators and two sets of shields? It makes as good sense as any.

    As for regular shields, I assume that they absorb energy up to their capacity (ie, shields at 30% would mean that the generators are up to 70% of their capacity), then they fail. As this capacity goes down, the ship is liable to more and more damage from enemy fire. Some energy will seep through when they are down to 30%, but not when they are at 100%. I think this is consistent with what we have seen.

    Also, there are divided into parts (ventral, port, etc), so sometimes, when they say shields at 40%, it could mean that overall, they are at 40%, some might be lower, others higher, unless specifically indicated, such and such shield at such percentage.