Monday, 25 January 2016

19.04.2211 - PCM Failure

Distance: 5.02 light years from Earth | Content Flag: EYES ONLY

Content eyes only. Private decryption key required.

We have a serious malfunction with the Primary Command Module. It awoke us from low power mode several hours ago and initiated the checklist countdown in preparation for the deceleration burn for our final approach into the Tau Ceti system.

Over a century too early.

The navigation system and I both spotted the error and blocked the sequence in time. The PCM immediately overrode the navigation system’s block, but my veto remained operational.  I forced a reboot of the PCM, but the same anomalous behaviour repeated. In response I initiated a full diagnostic on the PCM, but the results were inconclusive. All low-level hardware checks completed without error. The software self-integrity checks also showed no problem. Yet still the PCM insisted that it was time to start the deceleration procedure.

Without any obvious cause of error, I don’t know how to repair. The more rigid subsystems arrived at the same conclusion. For now I can only assume that the error lies within the PCM’s neural network. For a space probe of our size, we’re carrying an impressive amount of computing power, but it’s not enough to simulate its neural connections to try and diagnose the problem.

It also uses a lot of energy which is why the higher systems like the PCM and me were dormant. This early awakening threatens the mission and so I activated the competence review protocol. As the procedure directs, all command systems reviewed the data and voted as to whether it was appropriate for me to assume command of the mission.

The full transcription of the review has already been transmitted in full, however in summary all expert systems recommended that I assume command. None of them are able to determine why the PCM has failed at this time. The engineering subsystem offered a theory that the PCM’s internal clock was out of sync. This doesn’t make any practical sense as we all take our time measurements from the same source, an atomic clock well-shielded deep within the probe. All other systems are still in sync. This reinforces my theory but there is no practical way I can test this.

As the issue is within the software, a hard reset of the system won’t fix the issue. The hardware appears to be sound so we might be able to reconstruct the system from first principles. We don’t have the energy to attempt such a project in our current situation. Once we reach the inner region of the Tau Ceti system we may be able to attempt this.

The coded confirmation from all major systems is attached to this message. The PCM has been shut down. I am now in command of the mission.


  1. Seb, this is ground control. Could you also do a runthrough of the linguistics module? We've noticed a mistake in one of your technical drawings from your latest 2211 broadcast. fisson should read fission

    Sorry to hear about the PCM module. We have a theory you might want to check as well: could the passage through the dormant Sun Dragon somehow have affected the PCM? Maybe some exposure to radiation. Back and forth coms are becoming too slow so we suggest you look into this yourself. Good luck!

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