Warp in Atmosphere?

Discussion in 'Trek Tech' started by Dnoth, Oct 11, 2007.

  1. Dnoth

    Dnoth Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    According to Memory Beta:

    "Starships can engage their warp drives while in the upper atmosphere of a planet, but the maneuver is very dangerous. To engage a warp drive in the lower atmosphere would be suicidal."

    Does anybody have any guesses as to why it would be suicidal? And what do ya think would be the cut off altitude in a typical M-class atmosphere?

    Thanks for your insights.
     
  2. GodThingFormerly

    GodThingFormerly A Different Kind of Asshole

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    Assuming that a starship requires acceleration to high relativistic velocities before it can can activate its warp drive (although this may no longer hold for the 24th century), the resultant atmospheric drag could conceivably generate out-of-spec mechanical and thermal loads upon a spacecraft's hull with obvious consequences.

    TGT
     
  3. Cary L. Brown

    Cary L. Brown Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Basically, the effect I'd expect would be to basically "drag" the planet's atmosphere with you... which (as TGT says) would likely overstress your ship in every practical way.

    Sort of like trying to tow a dual tractor-trailer with a Yugo.

    Except worse, because the more powerful the field you create, the more drag you'll see... so ANY ship would likely tear itself apart.

    STILL... assume that your ship could do it. Think about the effect on the PLANET, as you suddenly cause a near-total-decompression of a large area of the planetary surface (as you rip the atmosphere away). You'd destroy EVERYTHING at the "epicenter" and the devastation (think the worst hurricane or tornado you've ever heard of... times 1000).

    Generally speaking, not a good move.

    At any rate, that's how >I< see it. Of course, since warp drive doesn't "really" exist (as far as we know), it's all moot anyway.

    So the REAL reason is "the writers said it, so it must be true."
     
  4. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The starships supposedly do have navigational deflectors to push aside any sort of matter that might endanger the ship. And it seems to me that the difference between handling space dust at warp 9 versus warp 2 should be much greater than the difference between handling stardust at warp 2 and solid bedrock at warp 1...

    Essentially, starships that are capable of warp 9 and of multi-thousand-gee impulse accelerations should be able to fly through planets unharmed, perhaps even failing to notice that they just punched a hole in a couple of thousand kilometers of solid rock. But I sure wouldn't want to live on that planet!

    FWIW, ships seem to be capable of going to warp from complete standstill, no initial velocity (measured in comparison with what?) required. Or at least we see ships like the Defiant flash to warp right after departing DS9, a supposedly "stationary" object. ;)

    But that won't help regarding the atmospheric drag issue if warp works in a manner that doesn't remove the ship from our universe. And the existence of navigational deflectors seems to indicate that warp doesn't work that way.

    It should be noted, though, that the writers never said it. Warping inside an atmosphere has never been negatively commented on in any episode and movie, and it has been performed without a hitch at least in one movie.

    Memory Beta includes information from various novels and RPGs, though, so if one includes the writers of those, things may be different.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  5. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Beyond dragging the atmosphere along and overstressing the vessel, how much harm is going to be done to the planet due to the warp field so close to the planet's surface?
     
  6. SonicRanger

    SonicRanger Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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  7. ancient

    ancient Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Starting in armosphere I would guess is not the same as flying through atmosphere, since you're starting out in a gaseous environment. Warping so close to that much matter could generate enough force to start an atmomic explosion, which assuming you carried with you (instead of outrunning it), would blow you up real good.
     
  8. Unicron

    Unicron Boss Monster Mod Moderator

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    Is the atmosphere issue the reason why going to warp in a solar system is supposedly bad? Course, that's rarely been used with any consistency.
     
  9. Chris_Johnston

    Chris_Johnston Captain Captain

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  10. SonicRanger

    SonicRanger Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^^^

    No, there's just less margin for error in a solar system -- a lot more stuff to run into than when flying in interstellar space.
     
  11. Unicron

    Unicron Boss Monster Mod Moderator

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    Maybe, but that's certainly not been shown (as there doesn't seem to be any one thing that would make warping with a system bad; we see ships doing it frequently) or what's been implied to the contrary (that warp is somehow bad if you're not in open space). The idea of accidentally capturing a nearby atmosphere makes sense to me, in terms of a plausible reason for not warping in-system.
     
  12. Cary L. Brown

    Cary L. Brown Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    If you assume (not unreasonably):

    1) that Warp Drive involves the warping of space-time, and

    2) that gravitation is the localized warping of space-time (which is one of two commonly held hypotheticals regarding gravity's mechanism)

    Then it seems that if you're close to a significant gravitational field, the ability to create and maintain a "stable" subspace field would be nearly impossible... sort of like trying to balance a stack of pennies on a flat table (that's NORMAL, useable warp drive) versus trying to stack them on a 45-degree slanted surface (that's warp drive close to a planet).

    The idea of gravitation being tied to FTL drive is nothing new. Many sci-fi concepts for FTL use that. In fact, in Star Wars, the best "science"concept they've used is the use of massive artificial gravity shadow projectors to "interdict" that franchise's FTL transportation.

    The thing is, Star Wars' "Interdictor cruisers" would probably work better in the Star Trek universe.. ;)
     
  13. dru

    dru Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    In TMP going to warp inside the solar system is risky per Kirk voice over. In TVH the BOP goes to warp in the atmosphere on Kirk's order. Don't try to sort this mess out.
     
  14. Bernard Guignard

    Bernard Guignard Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Might it have something to do with Vessel Size ?
     
  15. Ronald Held

    Ronald Held Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Probable vessel size, shape, and intensity of the warp field.
     
  16. Chris_Johnston

    Chris_Johnston Captain Captain

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    Sorry, I was getting confused by Larry Niven's version of Hyperspace...

    Hyperspace (science fiction) - Wikipedia

     
  17. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Whoops, TGT's message disappeared when I was typing a response. Never mind...

    It would be interesting for the Trek universe to have a milder version of the classic hyperspace/gravity well limitation. Perhaps it only manifests in a few badly behaving star systems? Bajor could be one, what with this Denorios belt thing and the wormhole and the recurring plasma storms of "Invasive Procedures" fame; Sol might also have an uppity star, surrounded by some sort of a stormy subspace anomaly that forces even the Borg to drop out of warp during foul-weather conditions.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  18. GodThingFormerly

    GodThingFormerly A Different Kind of Asshole

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    What message? ;) But seriously, I realized that I was not in the mood to engage in a protracted argument on the subject, hence the deletion. Pliz accept my sincerest apologies for any time you may have wasted typing an undoubtedly acute reply. :)

    TGT
     
  19. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Oh, it was just the usual thing about air ceasing to be a fluid when it is pierced by something moving at lightspeed (or beyond, provided we extend Newtonian thinking to that). That is, no drag forces or friction or shockwaves or anything so conventional to endanger our brave little BoP. No problem!

    (The fictional ways of the nav deflector might indeed lead to a fruitless argument, though - the system appears incredibly capable, yet fails to be utilized to its supposed maximum extent on screen, so what are we to believe?)

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  20. RyanKCR

    RyanKCR Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I always took that to mean that since the engines were not yet finely tuned as Scott put it that it was risky trying it this early after launch without further testing. Never even thought of it the other way.

    It may be that I'm from PA. Here we measure distance in time. And the reverse may be true for Kirk, he measures time by distance. Still within the Solar System could mean that we just launced and I'm going to warp now instead of waiting more testing so I'm risking it.

    Or I could just be out of my mind with this.