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org/dauntless Based upon: Lecture of the same title given by CAPT Owen Swart (Executive Officer, USS Dauntless) at the Science Fiction South Africa Star Trek Minicon 2006.
Introduction A lot of hard-core Star Trek fans, such as myself, often refer to Star Trek as "The Greatest Human Adventure." For this presentation, I will be focusing on one aspect of that phrase: the word ‘Human'. Who of you has seen the pyramids? We've all seen photos of them. Some of us may have researched them in more detail, looked them up on Google Earth and so on, but few of us have physically been in their presence and seen them. It's one thing to send automated and remote-controlled probes to Mars, but until a human being physically sets foot on the planet's surface, it remains essentially unexplored. In the 24th century, the Federation has technology with which they are able to scan and photograph much of the galaxy remotely. Subspace Telescopes like the Argus Array or robotic sensor platforms like Multispacial Probes would permit them to gather enormous amounts of information about distant stars and planets. But that's not really the point, is it? Star Trek is all about people physically traveling to "strange new worlds" and experiencing them first-hand. And so, the Federation has developed a host of technologies to enable that exploration. Today we'll be looking at the most important and prominent of those technologies. In order to do that, I'll be using as an example the one object in the Star Trek universe that acts as a quintessential enabler, and platform for all of these technologies: the Starship. In particular, the Galaxy Class Starship (which you may recognize as the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D). Propulsion Systems If you want to explore the stars, you need to get there, and so Starships have engines. The Galaxy Class is fitted with three types of engines. Reaction Control System
The first of these is the Reaction Control System, also known as the RCS Thrusters, or simply Thrusters. The ship is equipped with ten RCS packages that are evenly and strategically distributed around the hull - four on the saucer section, two on the engineering hull and two on each Nacelle. Each RCS package is rather simple in its function. When either of the other two engines is engaged, they feed plasma through a network of conduits which is stored by each thruster assembly in tanks so that it can be ejected into space through the directional vents. This venting creates a precise and direction-specific amount of thrust on command. Thrusters are used on their own to either keep the ship completely still (Station-keeping) or to propel the ship at very slow speeds (up to 600kph). When either of the other two drives is engaged, the thrusters are used for steering, and are thus also sometimes known as Maneuvering Thrusters (in precisely the same way that RCS Thrusters are used in 20th and 21st century spacecraft). Impulse Drive The second propulsion system is the Impulse Drive, which is used for traveling at slowerthan-light but fast speeds. The Galaxy Class has three clusters of Impulse Engines - two on the saucer section and one on the drive section. Each cluster contains 9 Impulse Reactors, resulting in a total of 27 operational Impulse Engines, all facing aft. The design of the Impulse Engine is about half-way between a 21st Century Nuclear Fusion Rocket and a Warp Drive, and it works as follows. The Deuterium Injection Manifold pulls Deuterium fuel from the storage tanks and compresses it into small pellets of Deuterium Ice. These pellets are then fired into to Reactor chamber where the Fusion Initiators ignite them. Deuterium burns extremely hot, and is soon turned into plasma (the fourth state of matter consisting of a "soup" of highly excited protons and electrons, too hot to coagulate into a gas). The heat from the plasma is used to power the Space/Time Drive Coil which generates a Subspace Cochrane Field. This is a low-intensity graviton field that has the effect of lowering the entire ship's relative mass. This improves the ship's power-to-weight ratio and thus increases the amount of thrust generated by the Impulse Engine. After the plasma has passed through the thermal generator of the Drive Coil, it is ejected into space through a magnetic nozzle, thus creating the thrust in the same way a rocket or jet engine does.
We don't see flames or smoke coming out of the Impulse Engines because in the relative vacuum of space the small amount of plasma dissipates quickly once it's left the nozzle, and all we see is a red or blue glow inside the engine exhaust itself. The Impulse Drive is limited to a top speed of 0.25c (25% of the speed of light). This limit is imposed by the software running the engine, not the physical components (A Galaxy Class is capable of reaching 0.92c without the software limit) and is known as "Full Impulse". The reason for the limit is because of Relativity. Einstein told us that the closer we get to the speed of light, the more our relative time slows down. If a Starship were to travel for long periods at high Impulse speeds, the crew on board would experience slower time passage relative to people on the outside... they would age more slowly and not be able to work as fast. This is particularly important in battle: if you are traveling closer to the speed of light than your opponent, his reaction times will be faster than yours, even if your resultant velocity is higher. Most other races with similar technology also limit their vessels to around 0.25c for the same reason. Warp Drive The third, and probably most important, propulsion system is the Warp Drive, also known as the Star Drive. It consists of two major components: 1. The Warp Core. This is the power generator for the Warp Drive. Although any number of power sources can be used, Federation Starships use a Matter/Antimatter Reaction Chamber (MARC) which utilizes the Matter/Antimatter Annihilation Effect to generate power. 2. The Warp Coils. Two sets of electromagnetic coils which attenuate a stream of graviton particles into a coherent pulse able to generate a stable and powerful Graviton Field (AKA ‘Subspace Cochrane Field' or ‘Warp Field'). The Warp Core sits in Main Engineering, in the Drive Section of the ship on Deck 32. It works as follows: Deuterium is injected from the fuel-tank above into the reactor, at the same time an equal amount of Anti-Deuterium is injected from the Anti-Matter Generator below. These reactants encounter each other within the lattice of a Dilithium Crystal which reflects and focuses the resultant photon burst and residual plasma into the Warp Plasma Conduits.
The Warp Plasma is used to power the Warp Coils, and the gamma photons are converted into columnated graviton beam that is manipulated into the Warp Field. The Warp Drive enables faster-than-light travel. But how does it work? Einstein's Theory of Relativity explicitly states that matter cannot travel faster than light. As an object approaches the speed of light its relative mass increases parabolically until, if the object were to reach light-speed, its mass would be infinite, and would therefore require an infinite amount of energy to propel it. Okay, so how does a Starship travel faster than light? The short answer is: it doesn't. Relativity also teaches us that the shape of space-time isn't constant, and is curved and bent by energy fields. We don't usually observe this sapce-time warping effect since we live within a very powerful gravitational field: the one generated by the Earth. The moreor-less constant distortion the Earth's gravity causes in space-time is strong enough to override most other distortions thus making them virtually imperceptible to us. If you were to travel through curved (or warped) space, your speed at any one point would be different to your resultant velocity. What a Warp Drive does, is it creates an extremely powerful energy field and warps space in a controlled fashion. Specifically it expands the space behind the ship and compresses the space ahead of it, while keeping the space immediately around the ship at a constant shape. It then allows the ship to travel a relatively short distance through compressed space at a comfortable sub-light speed, but in doing so, cover tremendous distances. Once the ship arrives at its destination it shuts down the Warp Field and space snaps back to its original shape. The ship's speed never goes over a few thousand kilometers per hour, but depending on the amount of energy being fed to the Warp Drive (as measured by the Warp Factor); its resultant velocity can be dozens, even hundreds of times the speed of light. The Warp Factor scale has been revised a few times since its creation. In the mid 24th century, the Warp Factor scale is parabolic: Warp 1 = 1c Warp 2 = 3.5c Warp 3 = 10c And so on. The scale goes up to Warp 10 which is infinite speed (at which the object exists at all points in the universe simultaneously). Speeds over Warp 9.9998 are referred to as Transwarp as no conventional Warp Drive is capable of reaching those velocities. Navigational Deflector
There are problems associated with navigating through space at near-light and fasterthan-light velocities. One of them is that you are bound to run into particulate matter along the way. No matter how many inches of Duranium Alloy are between you and the outside of the ship, when a speck of dust hits the hull at a relative velocity of thousands of kilometers per second, it's going to punch a hole right through the ship the size of your fist. While it's easy to navigate around larger objects like stars, planets, asteroids and comets, it's just not practical to try and swerve past every little grain of sand. So how does Starfleet solve this problem? With another piece of technology: the Navigational Deflector. The Galaxy Class Starship is equipped with one main deflector, which is located on the secondary hull, right in front (it looks like a blue and red glowing eye). The way it works is this: it projects a high-density collimated photon beam ahead of the ship. The faster the ship is traveling, the further the beam is projected. This beam has such a high particle density that it is able to apply a physical force to any particulate objects in the ship's path and literally push them out of the way, thus allowing the ship to fly past them safely. The Navigational Deflector works on just about anything provided its mass is somewhat smaller than that of the ship. Anything heaver than the ship will only be moved slightly, and will have to be navigated around. Inertial Dampers The other significant problem with traveling at such high speeds is the issue of the Gforces experienced during acceleration and deceleration. When driving your car, you're able to feel a significant push back into your seat when you hit the accelerator in low gear. Fighter pilots and astronauts have to undergo specific training to acclimatize them to the extreme G-forces they encounter. But even the 10Gs experienced by astronauts being launched into orbit aboard a space shuttle pales in comparison to the G-forces that would be exerted on the crew of a Starship as they accelerated to Full Impulse in a matter of seconds. So what prevents those forces from turning the crew into a red splatter on the rear wall the first time the Warp Drive is engaged? The Inertial Dampers, that's what. Inertial Dampers are a system that generates a graviton field around the ship. This field changes its orientation and strength automatically as the ship moves. As the ship accelerates, the computer measures the forces being put upon it and regulates the inertial dampers accordingly. Even unexpected forces (such as weapons-fire) are detected as soon as possible and the inertial dampers compensate
within nanoseconds, so the most discomfort the crew will experience is perhaps a brief jolt. Transportation Having enormous Starships to haul you and your supplies around the galaxy is only part of the technological requirements. You, as a person, still need to get around. The ships are big; you need to be able to get from one part to another quickly. Most of the ships can't land or dock, so you need to get from your ship to the ground, other ships and space stations in order to further your explorations, and so on. The Transporter The most significant technology devised for this purpose is the Transporter. Also known as a Matter/Energy Converter, the Transporter is the fastest and most efficient means of traveling to and from a Starship. The Transporter works as follows:
The subject takes his place upon the Transporter Pad (a dedicated platform built into the Transporter itself. The Transporter operator then initiates the first step of the procedure:
1. Confinement: The subject is surrounded in a low-level force field called the Annular Confinement Beam. This is to ensure that the subject remains still, and the transport coordinates aren't contaminated by other people or objects during the next step. 2. Scanning: The Transporter builds a pattern containing the precise location and direction of every single particle in the subject. This is in contravention of the Heisenberg Indeterminacy Principle, but fortunately the Heisenberg Compensators compensate for that. 3. Dematerialization: The Phase Transition Coils use the Rapid Nadion Effect to vaporise the subject's body quickly and painlessly. The subject's matter and data patterns are fed into the Pattern Buffer where it is held for a fraction of a second. 4. Transmission: The pattern is sent to the Transporter Antennae on the Ship's hull. 5. Rematerialisation: The Ship's Transporter Antennae reconstruct the subject using a combination of original and recruited matter according to the data pattern that was recorded. The Transporter can be used from ship to site, site to ship, ship to ship, intra-ship and site to site as needed. This device is limited to a range of 40 000 kilometers since Transporter signals cannot be safely sent via Subspace, and are therefore limited to light-speed. Turbolifts
When moving around inside a ship, the Transporter is not the most efficient means of travel. It uses quite a lot of energy, and the device is too large to have one on every deck. A much simpler alternative is the Turbolift. Turbolifts are not unlike 21st Century elevators, but they are different in two important aspects: Where 21st century elevators usually only move up and down, Turbolifts can move in any direction. This is because they don't use a cable-winch system, but rather combination of anti-grav and thruster technology. 2. Turbolifts are capable of tremendous acceleration, which means they require their own, redundant Inertial Dampers so as not to cause passengers any discomfort.
When moving outside a Starship, there are times when Transporters can't be used:
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Environmental conditions (such as ambient radiation or atmospheric ionization) make Transport unsafe or impossible. The range required exceeds 40 000kms. There is no safe Transport location (beaming into open space, for example). Cargo or infirm passengers will not survive Transport
For this reason, as well as a host of other uses, Starships carry with them a flotilla of Support Craft. Support Craft: Shuttlecraft The best known of these support craft is the Shuttlecraft. The Galaxy Class Starship has three Shuttle-bays which provide storage and launching space for these shuttlecraft. Galaxy Class Starships keep 36 shuttles on board, in various states of readiness. Of these 36, there are three different types of shuttles: 1. Type 16: Class 1 Shuttlepod. Requires 1 pilot and can configured to carry either 1 passenger and ½ a ton of cargo, or three passengers and minimal cargo. This shuttle is equipped with Impulse Engines and is capable of Full Impulse. 2. Type 6: Class 2 Shuttle. Requires 1 pilot and 1 copilot. As standard can carry up to 6 passengers in relative comfort, or can be configured to carry several tons of cargo. Has Impulse and Warp Drive, capable of reaching Warp 2. 3. Type 7: Class 3 Shuttle. Requires 1 pilot and 1 copilot. Highly customizable, and can be modified for any number of specialized missions. Frequently used as a long-range transport or medical transport. Has Impulse and Warp Drive, capable of reaching Warp 3. Support Craft: Captain's Yacht
The second type of support craft on board is the Captain's Yacht. Although we've never seen a Galaxy Class Starship launch one, it is there should the need arise. It is a large luxury vessel with automated helm and navigation systems. It has luxury quarters for the Captain, as well as for several guests. It is also equipped with a dining room, study and conference room, should the Captain need to use the vehicle to host diplomatic functions. Support Craft: Runabouts The third type of support craft on board is the Runabout. The Galaxy Class Starship is equipped with three Danube class Runabouts. A Runabout is essentially a small Starship. It has a crew of two and three standby personal with crew quarters for all five. It has customizable cargo-pods that can be made to accommodate additional passengers or cargo. It also has an external payload "roll-bar" which can be fitted with missionspecific equipment such as specialised sensor packages or additional weapons. Runabouts are small enough that they can fit within Shuttlebay 1 on the galaxy class Starship, but too large to fit into the other two shuttlebays. Runabouts are equipped with impulse and Warp drive. They are capable of reaching speeds up to Warp Factor six. Runabouts would usually be used as an alternative to the captain's yacht from long range missions. Environmental systems Life Support When traveling through space it is necessary to simulate environmental conditions that make the crew comfortable. This is not just a matter of comfort, but rather of ensuring the productivity of the personnel. Since the majority of Starfleet personnel are Human, most Federation Starships are configured to simulate the conditions on Earth. The temperature is kept at 18°C with 0.5% humidity, with a 78% Oxygen, 20% Nitrogen atmosphere. Lighting is also automatically adjusted to simulate a day/night cycle and is synchronized with San Francisco time (San Francisco is where Starfleet Headquarters is located.) These settings can be easily adjusted, and can can vary from room to room according to the precise requirements of the crew. Some non-human personnel (such as Benzites) who are not able to breath Earth's atmosphere are given specialised, portable life-support equipment or regular innoculation hyposprays to ensure they are able to work in that environment. Artificial Gravity Considering that in the 24th century, most people are still born and raised on planets, they are accustomed to working in an environment with gravity. Therefore, in order to facilitate a favourable and productive work environment for Starfleet personnel, all Starfleet ships and space stations have a simulated gravity system.
The artificial gravity is created by gravity plating within each deck that radiates a constant low stream of graviton particles at 90 degrees to the orientation of the deck. The artificial gravity system is tied into the inertial dampers, and automatically adjusts the strength and direction of the graviton stream according to the speed and acceleration of the ship, as well as relative to any external gravitational fields that the ship may be moving through. The artificial gravity system has an autonomous power source (the Artificial Gravity Generator) that allows the system to carry on functioning at optimum level for years after main power has been shut down. This is to ensure that in the event of a main power failure, the crew (or rescue party) will still be able to operate efficiently so as to affect repairs. The gravity system is also segmented and compartmentalized, with each segment having an autonomous control system. This means that each corridor section or room on the ship can have a different gravity setting. This is for the comfort of personnel who evolved on planets with lower or higher gravity (such as the Vulcans). It also allows the Sickbay to make use of a Zero G Ward, which is reserved for medical procedures that are easier to perform in the absence of gravity. Defensive Systems One of the best parts of traveling through space in the 24th century is that space is crowded. There are hundreds of other intelligent races out there, all traveling about following their own agendas. This results in a rich experience for the space traveler, as he is able to interact with those other species, and can indulge in an exchange of information and ideas. However, not everyone you meet in space is your friend. In fact, some races are downright aggressive, and don't take kindly to Federation Starships traveling through their space, no matter how noble their intentions might be. As a result, it is sometimes necessary fro Starfleet vessels to engage in combat in order to ensure their own survival, or the survival of others. To this end, Starfleet have equipped their vessels with an array of defensive systems, of varying design, use and effectiveness. These systems can essentially be broken down into two categories: Particle (or ‘Primary') Weapons and Projectile (or ‘Secondary') Weapons. Particle Weapons Before the formation of the Federation, Earth Starfleet equipped their vessels with Plasma Cannons. Plasma weapons work as follows: A small amount of Hydrogen is super-heated, thus causing it to lose electron cohesion, and forcing it to turn into Plasma. That little cloud of plasma is then sealed in a magnetic
bubble, which is pushed through a barrel lined with electro-magnets. The electro-magnets force the plasma-bullet forwards (like a particle accelerator) and out the front of the weapon at high speed. The magnetic bubble starts to break down after a few nanoseconds, and the plasma cloud itself starts to dissipate. Therefore the plasma bullet needs to be accelerated as fast as possible, so as to get the bullet to reach the target before it breaks down. Because of this limitation, the Plasma Cannon has a limited range, and its destructive capability decreases significantly the further the target is. Also, the plasma bullet is relatively slow (when compared to collimated electromagnetic beams), so targeting a vessel that is traveling at high Impulse speed is not at all easy. Another issue with Plasma Weapons is that the damage it inflicts is thermal. This may work well against meteoroids or unshielded vessels, but the effects against vessels equipped with energy shields are virtually nonexistent. Because of all these limitations, it was a tremendous boon to Starfleet captains when it was decided to equip Starships with Phase Cannons. A Phase Cannon is a significantly more sophisticated weapon, and is therefore more complex. When the Phase cannon is fired, the first thing that happens is a low-yield Gamma Laser is fired through the Fushigi-no-umi Emitter Crystal, the Pre-Fire Chamber and then on to the target. The Gamma Laser doesn't do much damage on its own, as it is essentially used as a carrier wave for the rest of the weapon. If used for prolonged periods, the Gamma Laser can deliver a small amount of thermal damage, also known as a Phaser Burn. The second component of the weapon is then activated: the Rapid Nadion Emitter. It transfers a stream of Rapid Nadions into the Emitter Crystal, where, as Rapid Nadions do, they absorb energy from the Gamma Laser, and use that energy to liberate and transfer weak nuclear forces from the Crystal. The Rapid Nadions then travel along the Gamma Laser into the Pre-fire Chamber where they are stored for a few nanoseconds. The Pre-fire Chamber creates a bottleneck of Rapid Nadions until the desired destructive capability has been achieved, then it releases them along the Gamma Laser which delivers them to the target. Depending on the density of Rapid Nadions in the beam, the destructive effects can vary from a light burn coupled with intense pain (when aimed at a base-type humanoid), all the way up to heavy nuclear disruption (strong enough to vaporise a carbon-based lifeform or cause seismic effects in objects with a crystal-lattice molecular structure). Because of the disruption effects, Phase Cannons are able to partially penetrate some Force Fields, thus causing damage to the vessel behind it.
Since Phase Cannon beams travel at the speed of light, and make use of a collimated electromagnetic carrier beam, they are easier to aim and have an effective range of thousands of kilometers - far more effective than a Plasma Cannon. By the mid 23rd Century, Starfleet had improved the design significantly, and had started referring to the weapon as a Phased Laser. Although it still operated under the same basic principles, the Phased Laser was more versatile as it included an omni-directional emitter assembly, thus increasing the aiming accuracy and improving response times. With improved power distribution systems, the maximum power output was also significantly increased. The USS Enterprise NCC-1701 (Constitution Class) was one of the first Starfleet vessels to be equipped with the 3rd generation Phase Cannon, now called Phaser. Phasers were another advancement to the technology, which included a variable beamwidth emitter, as well as a much higher maximum setting. The maximum setting of the new Phasers was initially so powerful that the Pre-fire Chamber was not able to handle a constant stream without overheating. This resulted in the innovation of the Pulse Phaser mode, which used short, high-density bursts of Rapid Nadions. The Pre-fire Chambers were soon upgraded, and the Pulse mode was discontinued until the 24th Century when the Defiant Class Starship used energy from its Warp Plasma Conduits to directly power its forward Phaser Cannons - these cannons had to use high density pulses as well, to compensate for the tremendous amount of energy being relayed. In the early 24th Century, Type X Phasers were, for the most part, no longer individual cannons, but instead long strips called Phaser Arrays. The arrays consist of multiple individual emitters. When fired, each passes its Rapid Nadions onto the emitter adjacent to it, all of which are collected in the pre-fire chamber of a single emitter, the one closest to the target, which then fires a single beam. This takes the thermal stress off each individual emitter, allowing each one to only deliver a small percentage of the total beam energy. It also allows Pre-fire Chambers to vent their excess thermal energy to the adjacent Pre-fire Chambers, thus facilitating a distributed dissipation of that energy. The Galaxy Class Starship is fitted with nine of these arrays, of various lengths, in various positions around the hull. Because these arrays are so evenly distributed, the Galaxy Class Starship has a 360 degree by 360 degree firing arc. Even Phasers have limitations. The most important one being the fact that they travel at the speed of light. While this is perfect for sub-light combat, they are essentially useless at Warp Speeds. The only time they are effective is when the firing vessel and the target vessel are traveling so close together that their Warp Fields overlap - a very unlikely scenario.
For this reason, Starfleet also employs a set of Projectile Weapons. Projectile Weapons The first was the Spatial Torpedo. In the days of the Plasma Cannon, the Spatial Torpedo was a viable alternative. It wasn't capable of warp speeds (it was fitted with a small Impulse engine), but its on-board guidance computer made it more effective than Plasma Cannons for long-range fire. Spatial Torpedoes used a conventional explosive warhead, which was quite effective against unshielded ships, and even marginally effective against shielded ones. During the Xindi Crisis in the mid 22nd century, Starfleet employed a replacement: the Photonic (AKA Photon) Torpedo. The Photon Torpedo has remained essentially unchanged since then. (it was taken out of service for a while and replaced by Nuclear Missiles, which were used during the Earth/Romulan War. It was re-introduced at some point after that.) The Photo Torpedo can be used in combat at warp speeds, since it is fitted with its own Warp Sustainer Engine. The engine is too small to create its own Warp Field, so the field is created inside the tube of the torpedo launcher. The Warp Sustainer Engine then only needs to keep that field intact for a couple of seconds, long enough for the torpedo to reach its target. The warhead is in two parts: equal sized compartments, one containing Deuterium, and the other Anti-deuterium. When the torpedo is detonated, the magnetic barrier between those two compartments is disengaged, and the two substances mix, resulting in a Matter/Antimatter explosion. Such an explosion releases a large amount of Gamma photons, hence the name "Photon Torpedo". The yield of the torpedo can be easily modified before launching, by defining the amounts of the two reactants to be stored. The torpedo's detonation can also be aborted after launching, so long as there is enough power to maintain the magnetic containment field - The torpedo can be remotely redirected and allowed to detonate at a safe distance from the would-be target. Since Photon Torpedoes travel faster than light, they are very effective during warp-speed combat, and can easily get past point-defense particle weapons systems. The destructive yield can also cause significant damage to both shielded and unshielded ships. In the late 24th century, Starfleet started employing Quantum Torpedoes. Despite the different name, these are essentially an upgraded version of the Photo Torpedo, but with a higher destructive yield. Structural Integrity
Weapons aren't the only systems required to defend a Starship from harm. One of the most important defensive systems is Structural Integrity. During combat (as well as during ordinary travel) the spaceframe and hull of a Starship are subjected to tremendous shearing forces. Even considering the fact that these structures are built from the highest quality pressure-welded Duranium and Duratanium alloys, there are forces that would rip even these to shreds. For example, when an Intrepid Class Starship lands on a Class M planet, the gravitational force would snap the ship in half, if it weren't for the Structural Integrity Field. The Structural Integrity Field is an intensely strong magnetic field that essentially holds the ship together. It compensates for forces the ship is subjected to, and keeps it in one piece. Although it has limits, the Structural Integrity Field allows a Starship to travel in any number of environments that would normally be detrimental: from inside the event horizon of a quantum singularity to the dense liquid/gas atmosphere of a Class J planet. It is thanks to the Structural Integrity field that ships don't fly apart at the seems when entering Warp or when being subjected to heavy enemy fire. Shields However Structural Integrity on its own isn't enough to protect the ship from damage. For this reason, Starfleet started equipping its ships with Force Fields (also known as ‘Deflector Screens', or simply ‘Shields'). A Force Field is a highly focused and concentrated energy field. As you know, there are three types of energy field found in nature: magnetic, electromagnetic and gravitational. Force Field emitters combine these three in such a dense configuration that it creates an almost impenetrable physical barrier. Starships employ Shields in order to reduce the damage to the hull during combat as well as in hazardous natural conditions. The Shields are able to counter and absorb large amounts of energy from outside sources, however each blow reduces the strength of the shields, and repeated attacks will cause them to fall. Shields also require quite a lot of energy to maintain, thus ships will power them down when not required. Although the Federation is prohibited from using them by the Treaty of Algeron, another widespread and valuable defensive system is the Cloaking Device. Under normal circumstances, a Starship will send out sensor beams which will reflect off objects, such as enemy ships, and will then be picked up by the ship's sensors. In order to nullify this, and prevent detection, a ship can employ a Cloaking Device. A Cloaking Device creates a specially calibrated energy field around the ship which causes
sensor beams and other particles to curve around it, instead of bouncing off it - thus rendering the ship essentially invisible. Most cloaking technologies draw a lot of power, so cloaked ships are usually not able to use their weapons while cloaked. Also, cloaking fields work both ways to some extent: cloaked ships have limited sensor resolution, and are not able to perform detailed scans. Ancillary Systems Deep space travel is also dependent on a number of other systems that don't fall into the aforementioned categories. Sub-space Radio The first of which is the ability to communicate over long distances. Sending communication signals at the speed of light is fine at short range - a few thousand kilometers. However, when the range increases, real-time communication becomes less practical, and eventually impossible. Since Warp Capable Starships can travel light-years in a matter of days or even hours, light-speed comms are useless. This need is filled by the invention of Sub-space Radio. Sub-Space is almost a spacial dimension that exists in parallel to our own - a realm that is not space-time, but is linked to it. The advantage of Sub-space is that the speed of light in that realm is far faster than it is in ours (an effective speed of Warp Factor 9.9998 95931.4 times the speed of light in our realm). This means that a Starship is able to communicate with a facility light-years away in realtime by sending a radio signal with a Sub-Space carrier wave - it essentially inverts the radio signal into the sub-space realm to take advantage of the higher maximum speed. However, there is a limit to Sub-space Radio: it takes quite a lot of energy to create a Sub-Space carrier wave. A Sub-Space Transtator aboard a Galaxy Class Starship has a range of 200 Light Years. If the target of the transmission is more than 200 light years away, the signal will drop out of Subspace at that distance and start traveling along at light speed after that. If the target is 200 light years away, it will take just 18 and a half hours for the signal to get there. However if the target is 201 light years away, it will take 1 year plus 18 and a half hours to get there - this represents a problem. To mitigate this, Starfleet has installed a network of Sub-space Relay Stations throughout its territory. These facilities pick up any Sub-Space transmissions it can detect, and relays them to the target. Thus any Starfleet vessel within the transmission range of a Relay Station is able to communicate with any facility in the Federation at Sub-space speed -
the maximum delay (from one end of Federation space to the other) will be 39 days, as opposed to 8000 years it would take at light-speed. Computers Probably the most important system on a Starship is the Computer. The computer is actually a network of thousands of smaller computers, each with a specific function, all linked together into a cohesive whole. The computer acts as the interface between the personnel on board and the ship's systems... it responds to their orders and sees to their needs. I could talk for days about the computers, but probably the single biggest advance in Starfleet's computing technology is that of Isolinear Circuitry. Each Isolinear Optical Chip contains its own processors, storage space and data transmission circuitry - it's almost a computer on its own. When an Isolinear Chip is connected to the circuitry of the ship, it contributes its stored data and processing power to the rest, thus increasing the overall power of the computer. Because of this redundancy, Isolinear-based computers are essentially infinitely expandable. This expandability has resulted in the development of new technologies, as well as new applications for older ones. Sensors When traveling, you need to see what's around you - the same goes for when you're traveling through space. To this end, Starships are equipped with sophisticated arrays of sensors, designed to detect anything and everything that might be of interest to the crew, or might pose a threat to the vessel. A Starship's Sensors are divided into three categories. 1. Passive Sensors. These work like an eye: the soak up radiation that it receives and uses that to determine what's going on outside the ship. These passive sensors can detect the entire electromagnetic spectrum, as well as a variety of other quantum particles that float around the universe. 2. Active Sensors: These function like Radar or Sonar: they send out pulses in a range of spectra with the idea that these will bounce off objects in space and be picked up by the passive sensors. 3. Internal Sensors: These do not have the high resolution the external sensor arrays have. They are used for monitoring activities inside the ship: locations of personnel, unusual phenomena and damage reporting. Replicators One of the technologies that have arisen as a result of the development of Isolinear Circuitry is that of Matter Replicators. This is an application of Transporter technology,
and had replaced the old Protein Resequencers. Instead of holding a pattern in a buffer temporarily and then purging it once transport is complete, the Replicator has a library of simple patterns that can be materialized on command. A Replicator can also be used to dematerialize (and thus recycle) waste. Holodecks An even more sophisticated application of this technology is in the Holodeck. This device creates a convincing immersive environment using a combination of optical-lensing through energy fields and replicated matter. It projects a complex set of energy fields that curve and filter light in such a way that it looks like solid matter... also images projected onto the walls can look as if they are much further away than they really are. As soon as a user approaches a holographic object, the object is removed and replaced by a replicated real object - life-like and solid. When the user moves away, the replicated object is dematerialized and replaced with a holographic one. In order to facilitate a seamless transition from holographic object to physical object and back to a holographic one, the replicated objects are not fully materialized: they are kept in place by energy fields which can only be projected within the confines of the Holodeck. If a replicated object is removed from the Holodeck, it will dematerialize. However, within the Holodeck, replicated objects are completely solid. The Holodeck is even capable of creating convincing living characters according to specified behavioural patterns. These characters are usually unsophisticated, but there have been exceptions, such as the Professor Moriarty character created by Geordi LaForge, Minuet created by the Bynars, and The Emergency Medical Hologram created by Dr Lewis Zimmerman. Only species with telepathic abilities would be able to tell the difference between a holographic character and a real person. Tractor Beam Another important technology is the Tractor Beam. Sometimes it is necessary for a ship to tow another. Early Starfleet vessels used a retractable grappling grip, which is only really effective if the vessel being towed is far smaller than the towing ship. Later vessels have replaced this with a Tractor Beam, which creates a linear graviton beam projected onto a target. This creates a low-level Sub-space Cochrane field around the target (in much the same way that an Impulse Engine does) and then uses a modulated magnetic field to hold it in position.
The Cochrane Field allows a ship to tow ships (or other objects) that are far more massive than the ship itself. The Enterprise D used its tractor beam to tow an asteroidal moon as well as a stellar core fragment. Portable Technology Space exploration involves far more than flying around inside a Starship. In order to experience "strange new worlds", it's often necessary to leave the confines of your vessel. However you'll still need access to the technology on board, or to take some of it with you. For this reason, Starfleet has developed a number of portable devices for personnel to use while on "Away Missions". Communicators The first one is the Communicator. An Away Team needs to be in constant contact with its mothership. Earlier hand-held models were replaced in the 24th century by the Commbadge which is attached to the uniform on the chest. It's a voice-controlled Sub-space transceiver that is activated by a single touch from an authorized user. Through his comm.-badge, a user can communicate with any Starfleet personnel within range, as well as operate the computer by voice-command. If you were to open it up you would see the Sub-space transceiver, a Serium-Krellide power cell (capable of powering the device for 3 months without being recharged), encryption circuitry (for secure channels) and a dermal sensor used for user authentication. The dermal sensor was later removed as it was seen as more of a safety risk, rather than a security feature. Hand-weapons The next device is hand-held weapons. At the same time Phase Cannons were introduced in the 22nd century, a smaller hand-held version was introduced. 24th century hand-held Phasers are more versatile and come in a wider range of models. The standard issue side-arm for Starfleet personnel is the Type II Phaser pistol, which has 16 power settings ranging from light stun (capable of knocking a base-type humanoid out for about 5 minutes) to heavy disruption (capable of demolishing a sky-scraper). It uses a smaller version of the firing mechanism of its larger, ship-mounted cousins. It also uses a Serium-Krellide power cell, which is capable of up to 1000 shots (varies, depending on the power setting). It also has a Sub-Space transceiver array, which allows a ship's computer to monitor its use, as well as enable or disable it remotely. Tricorders
Probably the most important piece of mobile equipment is the Tricorder. Like its predecessor, the Hand-scanner, the Tricorder is a mobile sensor package/computer. In its standard configuration it allows the user to run a wide variety of active and passive scans, link with other computer systems and record and access vast amounts of information. Tricorders can also be configured for specific purposes. Medical Tricorders contain extensive medical and exobiological databases, as well as a remote medical sensor package capable of scanning at a sub-cellular level with benign active sensor modes. Tricorders also run off Serium-Krellide power cells, and are also equipped with Subspace transceivers so that they can be interfaced with a ship's computer, as well as any other computer system (its active sensor array is even capable of interfacing with computer systems that don't have wireless communications capability, such as 20th century desktop PCs). Conclusion It is only as a result of possessing all of these technologies that it is possible for the characters in Star Trek, the conceptual astronauts of the future, to "boldly go, where no man has gone before."
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