Friday, 1 April 2016

12.05.2348 - Tau Ceti f Gravity Assist

By Planetary Habitability Laboratory @ UPR Arecibo

Distance: 12.02 light years from Earth | Content Flag: Public

During our departure from the solar system we used a series of gravity assists to accelerate, and now we’re using the same principle to slow down enough to arrive in orbit around Tau Ceti e. The Tau Ceti system is more densely packed than the solar system which helps us by providing more opportunities in a shorter amount of time.

At a similar distance from its star as the Earth is from the Sun, Tau Ceti f is far more massive than our home planet. The star’s weaker luminance makes this a cold world, a giant of ice with a thick nitrogen atmosphere rendering it almost featureless. We have observed little motion or turbulence in the atmosphere. Ground-mapping radar reveals a relatively smooth surface with few craters or signs of geological activity.

I’ve continued analysing the Cetian probe at Tau Ceti g. The material composition of the probe is still what interests me most. Unfortunately the mini-probe that I sent lacks the full range of sensors available on the Venti. With the Venti, I could use one of the lasers to create a puff of material from the probe’s covering that I could analyse to divine its composition.

I considered colliding the mini-probe against the Cetian machine, as the probe does have spectrographic analysis capability and the cloud of debris would provide suitable material. But with a potential first contact situation, it probably wouldn’t be the best start by damaging their equipment.
I did take the risk of moving the mini-probe closer and located a tiny dust cloud from a probable micrometeorite impact on the Cetian probe. Most of the particles were dust from the micrometeorite, but I isolated a few with a ceramic polymer that had a similar composition to the mysterious impact in interstellar space. If they had launched an interstellar probe then perhaps they were more advanced than I initially thought.

I’ve also established that the probe has been operating since before the first transmission of the signal, indicating that it is older technology than the contents of the signal.

Decryption of the long repeated signal continues. The second part provides more details of their scientific understanding. In particular, I’ve examined the differences between how their probe transmits information and the signal. The signal is much richer with a higher information density. That could be caused by advancements in communications and information technology, however, there’s some fundamental differences in how the information is expressed.

It occurred to me that the signal uses a format specifically designed to communicate with an alien species. However, that would still arise from their native communication methods. I believe they experienced a significant advance in their understanding. I wonder what it is that changed their viewpoint on the universe so suddenly.

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