Sunday, 11 September 2016

27.05.2352 - Plans

By Jon Lomberg -, Public Domain,

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

With the decision made to follow the Visitors to Epsilon Indi, I have spent the past days examining ways to achieve this goal. The stress of the journey from Earth puts the Venti probe in a poor position to undertake another long journey lasting 3 centuries.

The primary concern is power. As long as we remain close to a star, the cells embedded in the solar sail provide ample energy for normal operations. We have some reserves for the MPD drives and from the backup systems, but nowhere near enough to last for another interstellar journey. The Cetian installation has power and from the specifications I’ve extracted from their data, it should be enough for 2 centuries at our average rate of consumption.

That would of course put an end to their memorial signal and raises another issue. With still no communication from home, they would likely search for me here in the Tau Ceti system when they try to re-establish contact. My own tracking routines can cope with a new location, but I’m not comfortable with leaving this station abandoned and without power.

As such, I intend to reconfigure the station to use the solar cells to power it, and use some of my own technology to adapt it to act as a relay. I will also change the signal so that it includes everything that I have learned on my journey. So the platform will become a memorial not just for the Cetians, but for the Venti probe too.

Creating a solar panel large enough to power the satellite will use up all that I have available – that means leaving no margin of error to work in. We do have a tiny stock of raw materials that we can make repairs with, but that wouldn’t be enough.

There is scope to reduce our power requirements. We conducted a lot of science on the way out of the solar system and during our entry here. We can forego this for our trip to Epsilon Indi. Obviously that’s not my preferred solution, as our purpose is to learn, but in this case we will have to shut down for a longer period so that we reach our destination in an operational state.

I’ve transported two more spiderbots to the Cetian satellite to begin preparations for switching over the power system. In the meantime, I’m studying the Cetian records further to finalise the plan for the switchover. The solar sail is also being partially reeled in to effect repairs to it. It’s fortunate that the embedded cells have suffered little damage, but as we’ll need the sail for propulsion again, the minor tears and holes need to be fixed to improve its efficiency.

For this journey, we won’t have the booster sleds or the MPD drives so we will be relying on gravity assists and the sail. The distance might be a fraction shorter than our trip here, but it will take much longer.

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