Mapping the galaxy

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Unicron, Jul 29, 2021.

  1. yotsuya

    yotsuya Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It is a related side topic that came up discussing how well mapped the Ceti Alpha system was when Kirk left Khan there.
     
  2. DEWLine

    DEWLine Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Mapping the galaxy has to be an ongoing mission for all starships, I'd expect. Stars still move, relative to one another and to our galactic core. "Weather/climate" has to be constantly updated for "known" space. Other conditions also make that ongoing work necessary.
     
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  3. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    For something as capable as a starship, the movement of stars is about as relevant as the movement of tectonic plates is to today's seagoing vessels. It can be measured, as a curiosity, and the maps can be updated every epoch (the length of a relevant epoch not being fifty years, like for today's star maps, but more like 5,000), but it won't affect daily operations. Oh, there will always be regions where the topography of the sea bottom or the coast changes abnormally fast, and those will be monitored closely - but this liberates most of the ships of this planet from the need to chart, and probably the same would hold true for Trek, too.

    Unless, of course, space travel there were relatively rare and a high percentage of the ships deployed out there would actually be dedicated to pure curiosity...

    But yes, weatherships. Just like today. Although mostly weather buoys.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  4. Dr. Kravaal

    Dr. Kravaal Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I might have one more stiff hidden away…maybe one Khan didn’t like.

    In terms of mapping the galaxy, there are an awful lot of Terrarian-somethings in TNG.

    Now, the TRAPPIST system seems all rocky worlds. Earth-Moon-Sol is the Terran system although I have heard Tellurium.

    Now, have that the name of the overall TRAPPIST set up with each rocky world having a different T-name/group bred to it Man Plus style from Pohl…

    My Dad’s first name was Tunnell of all things
     
  5. Shik

    Shik Commander Red Shirt

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    Those numbers bothered me as well when I was writing my history for that timeframe. Like you, I considered more automated exploration as the likeliest method:

    New large explorers were now to be sent into deep space solo rather than in fans and waves as the spearhead of the small exploratory fleets called for by the initiative. With less mission area overlap and far fewer backups than intended, this created to a reemergence of the "only ship within 40 ly" syndrome that defined much of the previous century's voyages. Ships being refit would pick up some of the slack as they returned to service, but they would not create any actual gain until the program ended as they usually replaced others being pulled for their own upgrades. Refit ships also had to catch up to the far-ranging explorers before they could swap out with them, the frontier rim being as far as it was. Gaps in coverage were handled in the interim by placing the burden of extreme deepspace charting efforts on unmanned assets; this included a new round of subspace telescopes like the Argus Array and Starlight as well as automated warp probes such as the Vega, Halovaya, and Obchenik series. Cheaper to build than crewed starships, they often rankled the neighbors far less even with close-approach positioning and flight paths. Without the need to allocate energy for habitation, the probes were able to travel farther and faster and could be redirected to reconnoiter possibilities discovered by the telescopes, adding to the Federation knowledge base and helping to inform Starfleet as to the best candidates and regions for crewed exploration and detailed investigation.

    Greater reliance on automated long-range exploration did not slow scientific data gathering efforts in the least; in retrospect, it was perhaps the best decision Command could have made given the options at the time. By 2360, some 8% of the galaxy had been charted via both crewed and automated methods; by 2364, it had jumped to 11%, and to 19% merely a year later. Direction of starships towards specifically identified areas of interest did mean overlooking some less obvious options, but by and large the arrangement worked well. At the start of the 2360s the frontier of explored space sat some 2000 ly away from Sol, the edge of a volume some 7 billion cubic light-years in total, with starships ranging as far as 800 ly beyond the rim. This was the spearhead of an information collection apparatus with thousands of myriad paths, operating in perfect synchronicity. Data exchanges with new races interested in cooperation, affiliate status, or membership brought a constant influx to UFP databases, where teams at the central repository of Memory Alpha and its backup sites worked to sift seed from chaff, finding areas or items of interest worth detailed exploration by starship crews, or even newer species to establish relations with.
     
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  6. Dr. Kravaal

    Dr. Kravaal Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I could see Ceti Alpha VI coming apart right after a heavy probe was done mapping the system. Here is how a miss can be made. An inhabited ship might have noticed something amiss….but if the probe was under orders to have a light touch as it were…avoiding any active scans to tip off Khan’s people…it might miss seeing an overactive core or approaching black hole.
     
  7. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Whatever happened to Ceti Alpha VI, it probably was spectacular visually, or else Khan wouldn't have noticed. It's unlikely Kirk would have left him any instruments that could even in theory be utilized for communicating or attracting attention; with just an optical telescope, Khan wouldn't see much, and would see nothing once the sandstorms began...

    ...But perhaps Khan saw nothing, until getting the vision-blocking aftermath? So we're left in the dark just like the poor superman. What did happen? Did anything at all happen to Ceti Alpha VI? Or did some prankster one stormy night just transplant Khan and his little huts from CAV to CAVI for shits and giggles?

    At the very least, "a shift in orbit" might be bullshit, Khan dreaming up a rationalization that satisfied his superior intellect when the planet got screwed by, say, an asteroid impact or sudden shift in axial tilt. And so the Reliant computers would tell the helmsperson"All planets in their expected orbits", he'd query "Commit to final approach, Sir?" and Chekov would glance up from his screen and say "Affirmative, standard orbit around the desert world, rrright, Keptin?" and Terrell would nod...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  8. Dr. Kravaal

    Dr. Kravaal Vice Admiral Admiral

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    There are a lot of stories left to tell here…
     
  9. Smirky-Spock

    Smirky-Spock Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Assuming sensors and mapping records are accurate in the 23rd Century, what could have happened in the Ceti Alpha system?
    1. For planet V to become planet VI, a new planet similar in size to planet V needs to be inserted into the star system inside the orbit of planet V.
    2. To maintain the total count of planets in the Ceti Alpha system, one of the outer planets, probably planet VI, would need to disappear.
    3. The orbits of the new rogue planet and planet V would need to have their orbits shifted into the appropriate new orbits where the new planet ends up about where planet V used to be, and planet V ends up about where planet VI used to be.
    4. Planet V and planet VI should be very close in mass to each other, and probably in close orbits to each other.
    5. Assuming Khan is correct, then old planet VI exploded confirming #2 above.
    6. Assuming Khan is correct, then the orbit of planet V shifted confirming #3 above.
    My conclusion, to resolve the massive star system changes, an undetected rogue planet entered the star system and was captured. At the same time, planet VI explodes. Based on my limited understanding of planets, planets don't explode of their own. These two events occur at the same time, therefore, it must be cause and effect. The rogue planet must have been about the same mass of both planets V and VI. The rogue planet probably encountered both planets while they were relatively close to each other with the closest approach to planet VI causing it to become unstable and explode while disrupting the orbit of planet V to drift out to where planet VI used to be. The rogue planet is captured and stabilizes its orbit where planet V used to be. To complete the disappearance of the old planet VI, its debris needs to go away, either flung into the Ceti Alpha star or out of the star system. Into the star is cleanest. The in-falling debris causes the star to react with huge solar flares and coronal mass ejections expelled from the star devastating the inner planets.

    What did Starfleet know? If planet VI's explosion was hidden behind its star, Starfleet's long range sensors might only detect the huge solar flares and coronal mass ejections from the Ceti Alpha star. Their conclusion: the biosphere of planet V, along with Khan and his poor people exiled on the planet, were wiped out by the solar events; burned to a cinder. (If only Ceti Alpha V was a little farther away from the star, they might have survived. :weep: ) The huge solar flares also keep future space craft away from the star system for years. The Reliant shows up after the star has re-stabilized itself and solar flares has dissipated. They find planet V burned to a cinder as expected and some sort of faint reading on planet VI. Other minor discrepancies with these planets and their orbits are just further proof of the devastation of the star's instability Starfleet detected 14.5 years ago. Are these extremely rare events? Yes, but not uncommon in Star Trek.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2021
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  10. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Or then planet V has to become painted in the colors of planet VI.

    Planets in space don't have ordinals attached. When viewed, they're viewed in isolation - no telescope today would see anything relevant if trying to catch two planets in the same shot. So we can choose: is it the orbit (within certain tolerances), or the albedo, or the landmasses, or the diameter, or what? And for most planets, things like albedo or diameter would be within said tolerances, whereas we hear of no landmasses being involved at either the original V or VI.

    But who would be counting? Literally - who would have any interest in doing so?

    If we want to introduce a new planet, the simplest thing would be to insert it close to V, where it dances a bit and then chooses the inner orbit. Nothing else need move, since nobody would be interested in checking out anything in the "else" category.

    Assuming they had such sensors. But their remote sensing achievements tend to be of the purely passive sort: planet X (say, Maluria) or colony Y (Deneva) or starship Z (Defiant) stops transmitting the daily or annual okey-dokey, so Kirk gets to investigate when he can spare the time. Even if Ceti Alpha suddenly changed spectral class, nobody might notice for centuries.

    Well, spontaneously exploding planets are no less common, it seems...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  11. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It would depend on several factors:
    Changing environmental conditions and how powerful and accurate your sensors are.
    24th century UFP sensors are FTL and can scan to the subatomic. They seemingly have a range of about 40 Lightyears for Intrepid class starships.
    However, development of Astrometric sensors allowed a scanning radius of at least 2400 Ly's.
    Communications also seem to be linked to sensors (and vice verse) - as we saw when Voyager linked with the Hirogen relay network which 7 was able to use and discover the USS Prometheus in the AQ (where they also sent the doctor).

    Starfleet also developed Hyper Subspace technology which allowed real time communications across 16 000 Ly's by bouncing a signal off a quantum singularity. Without that bouncing effect, I suspect its possible that hyper subspace array is capable of transmitting in real time across 10 000 Lightyears at least (possibly a few thousand more).

    Technically, Starfleet could just install multiple MIDAS arrays across UFP space and instruct deep space starships to deploy a few hyper subspace amplifiers or construct actual arrays (they don't seem to be that large) at certain distances.

    Lets say that each ship deploys an amplifier or an array every 8000 to 10 000 Ly's... SF would technically then have real time communications and sensor data across those distances.

    Also, with development of new sensor technology, scanning previously scanned sectors (or even your own native solar system/neighborhood) could easily provide new data about it that old sensors simply didn't have the means to tell you (this can also affect changes in how ships travel in local space).

    But Starships seem to remain the primary method of deep space exploration. Even if SF deployed multitude of MIDAS arrays with real time scanning capabilities spanning tens of thousands of Lightyears... it would still want to send ships and crews for detailed study because its possible as good as sensors would be, they wouldn't be able to necessarily replace up close and personal observation.
     
  12. KamenRiderBlade

    KamenRiderBlade Commodore Commodore

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    Our Galaxy is alot bigger than just 100,000 ly.

    Our Galaxy also has at least 59 Dwarf Galaxies that are near by and plenty of other Galaxies within the "Local Group".

    So plenty of mapping and exploring to be done in 3D.

    And our Map / Understanding of our Milkyway Galaxy and all Nearby Dwarf Galaxies + Larger Galaxies like Andromeda & Triangulum should be easy enough to reach with once we have Quantum SlipStream be a standard feature.
     
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  13. Smirky-Spock

    Smirky-Spock Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    For the TOS era, the Enterprise seems to have very good data about explored star systems before they visit them in person, hence my previous assumption that Starfleet mapped data of star systems is accurate and detailed. As for long range sensor capability, it appears that probes, scout ships and starships need to hover just outside a star system to accurately count and determine the class type of each planet. To get more detailed data on individual planets, a planetary survey is done from orbit of the planet. There should be no argument about Starfleet's ability to map and record simple data on star system's planet count and class type determinations before entering the star system.
    In The Menagerie, the Talos star group was mapped out to some extent with number of planets and their class type known event though the Talos group has never been explored which I assume it means the planets were not orbited by probe or ship:
    In Space Seed, Kirk and Spock have previously mapped data on Ceti Alpha system that includes a planet count and class type information on each in order to select a habitable planet to exile Khan's people:
    At the start of Who Mourns For Adonais?, we observe typical mapping of the Beta Geminorum system done by starship while in-system. Again, the planet count and class type is known while they gather more detailed data by going planet-to-planet:
    In The Apple, Kirk is making a routine exploration of a planet that a previous scout ship reported strange sensor readings in this case. Again, the planet count and class types are known:
    From The Doomsday Machine, we get a hint of the effectiveness of long range sensors to scan star systems, clearly counting planets or in this case, destroyed planets:
    Metamorphosis shows that the Enterprise's scanners are capable on counting thousands of asteroids and determine their class by hovering outside an asteroid belt. To detect life details, it requires a close in scan of each asteroid:
    In Spock's Brain, the Enterprise knows the number of planets and their class types by previous reports and long range scanning that gives a planet count, planet class types and their industrial development levels. While hovering outside the system, the Enterprise's scanners can gather even more detailed information on current conditions like energy generation and vague life form locations:
     
  14. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The "Doomsday Machine" example is IMHO the most relevant here. There is indeed no question of the capacity to survey in detail - from which it follows that Starfleet doesn't bother to do so. When external factors suggest that the current star system for a rare once actually might be interesting, Spock twists a knob and the details become known. But not before, and not just in case. Because, as we see, when we get to the case, Spock can twist the knob.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  15. Tim Walker

    Tim Walker Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Interesting comments by Shik. :angel: The use of robotic probes by Star Fleet is canon-see "Tin Man" (TNG).

    I would point out another characteristic of probes. They can go on one way trips, which suggests that they can go much farther out than manned ships. Perhaps a given probe will survey several different solar systems, moving further and further away. A limit would be the effective range of telemetry.
     
  16. KamenRiderBlade

    KamenRiderBlade Commodore Commodore

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    Depends on how many Micro Satellites you shunt out from your parent probe.

    Modern day Cube Sats are 10 cm on each side and pack a ton of sensors for it's size.

    Imagine what you can do with 24th Century tech in that volume of space.

    Setup Geo Stationary Repeater Satellites at the North & South Poles respectively and have all other Baby Cube Sats feed data to it and transmit to a common Relay Sat that's placed in a Northern & Southern GeoStationary orbit over the Center Point of a Planetary Star System.

    This way you have common relay points to feed data to, be it from a Planetoid or around a Star.

    Then the Central Relay Sats can feed all that data out back out to StarFleet.
     
  17. Dr. Kravaal

    Dr. Kravaal Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Complacency
     
  18. at Quark's

    at Quark's Commodore Commodore

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    Just what level of detail are we talking about when we say 'mapping the Galaxy'?

    I mean, we could probably claim today that we have mapped it. Just very globally. Does mapping mean knowing the position of each individual star in the galaxy? That probably should be doable by 24th century tech, possibly without even leaving the AQ. Or do we mean having detailed information on each solar system, including (say) detailed scans of each and every planet? That would be a much harder task.

    For the latter task, I don't think the speed of the ships would be a deciding factor, unless there's also scanning technology that can scan in such detail from a distance of, say 100ly. Without such tech, the task would probably be equal to tasking 100 people on earth to map every human settlement on earth with 50 people or more. They probably wouldn't be done in 50 years. Despite the fact they could reach any random spot on earth in less than 24 hours, there simply would be too many places to visit.
     
  19. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    More like writer inadequacy.
    I cannot imagine an advanced organization like UFP to NOT do a follow-up on something like the Doomsday machine. Its made out of solid Neutronium.
    You'd have automated schedule remind you every once in a while about things that need a follow up and just dispatch a ship or two do actually do that.

    Its a proverbial treasure trove for study, which would have allowed the UFP to progress its understanding of Neutronium to such a degree where they could AT LEAST improve their tactical systems to be effective against it in the next 50 years... and to be able to manufacture it in another 50 years (though to be fair, when you think about the fact UFP is comprised of numerous alien species in the 23rd century sharing resources, knowledge and technology, those time frames would have reduced by at least a half)... all in all, mid 24th century UFP should have developed the ability to manufacture Neutronium all by itself.

    But as Lower Decks noted, Starfleet is not good on follow-up (like what happened again with Landru). I'm thinking this was an intentional jab at previous Trek writers 'penchant' for introducing situations and technology only once and then never mentioning them again just assuming everything will be fine... Trek writers would do well to discontinue this practice as its utterly idiotic and makes UFP and Starfleet look like a bunch of idiots, when in fact, I seriously can't see UFP (or any advanced civilization that touts to be more evolved) making such massive oversights.

    Sure, oversights can happen, but not in a super-advanced technological setting where the admirals in charge would have reminders set for various things... and hey... if WE thought about it, then how the heck you have a whole bunch of Starfleeters who are supposed to be good at their jobs that didn't?
     
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  20. KamenRiderBlade

    KamenRiderBlade Commodore Commodore

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    I'd have a seperate division of StarFleet sequester the carcass of the "Planet Killer" and haul it off to a Black-Site or Area 51 like site for extensive research.

    Given the # of weird things that StarFleet discovers or finds, I wouldn't be surprised if there is it's own version of Area 51 for testing rare & weird stuff like "The Doomsday Machine".

    The pure Neutronium Hull itself is worth harvesting and reusing.
    Imagine Warp Core casing for ANY type of Reactor (M/A-M, Artificial Quantum Singularity, Tetryon, Fusion, etc) that can never blow up and take out the ship, that alone is worth it.
    Enemy weapons fire could never destroy it as well.

    If you want a self destruct device that is thorough, you can always use Red Matter to create a Artificial Black Hole and crush everything within the vessel into oblivion.

    Maybe StarFleet has the equivalent of "Warehouse 13" and stores rare & valuable objects in their own hidden Warehouse or Black Site in deep space.

    Maybe that's what StarFleet PR lets everybody think, but in reality, there's a seperate division for collecting these rare items and making good use of them.
     
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