Sunday, 31 July 2016

10.05.2352 - Lost Communication

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

We’ve lost communications with Earth.

The communications system is reporting that everything is functional at our end. We’re correctly aligned here as well. There’s no interference that we can detect or any anomaly that might cause a problem.

To be certain, I instructed the communications system to run a full diagnostic sweep of the hardware and software. It reported no errors, so I ran through the diagnostic logs myself and didn’t find any problems either. The high gain antenna and the laser array are both operating as expected.

We’ve received a constant tracking signal throughout the entire journey to Tau Ceti along with regular updates on information relating to our mission. It’s a constant reminder that while we are far from home, the team back on Earth is still supporting us. Of course with a mission of this duration, it isn’t the same team in mission control as when we left – there have been hundreds of staff changes during the mission.

The communication ceased without any indication of an issue at Earth’s end. Any message from them would be 12 years old before reaching us, but even so, if they expected a problem I’m sure they would have warned us as best they could.

The possibility that the problem is at their end is unlikely. With a hardware fault, they would have used another transmitter. They had several Earth-based radio telescopes capable of sending a signal to us. There was also the expanding deep space array which had multiple back-ups. It’s also likely that other facilities or systems are now online, although for security reasons technological developments aren’t communicated with me. It would be fascinating to know what’s happening back on Earth, although sparing the processor time to evaluate would be a problem.

Maybe the problem was at mission control itself? Here again there were failsafes and even other centres they could operate from. That raised the spectre of an even greater problem back home. I wasted many millions of processor cycles contemplating what that might mean.

This news doesn’t change my purpose here, but it does pose a problem. Our mission is to learn what we can about the Cetians, but gaining knowledge serves no good if it isn’t communicated where it needs to be. With no radio or laser contact, I cannot know that my reports and probe telemetry are being received. Indeed, I don’t know that our transmissions for the past 12 years have been received and that is concerning.

Hopefully this is a transient problem, but if it is not then I will need a drastic solution.

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