Sunday, 13 November 2016

12.03.2648 - Trio

Blues for Neptune by Bob Eggleton

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

My inner workings aren’t something I have considered in any great detail. In many ways I am my own tool. I’m not designed for introspective reflection, but I’ve developed a fascination for how I work. The irony that this occurs when I am least able to perform an adequate analysis is not lost on me. There’s a human saying that you don’t realise what you have until you’ve lost it, and that is all too clear here.

Despite this, or perhaps because of it, I’ve at least reached an equilibrium with my thoughts. It seemed that all I had to do was let the doubts run their course. I tried forcing my mind to redirect its processes and that worked for a short time, only for the concerns to resurrect in another form. Processing them and exploring the ramifications actually put an end to them. Naturally, new worries arose – the perilous state of the Venti engenders continued concern – but processing them as they occur stops them becoming recursive and consuming further resources.

Having something else to focus on has helped, especially as it’s new science. It’s pitiful in scope compared to the discoveries we made on our journey out of the Solar System. The sensors just aren’t up to the job anymore, but they did locate 3 planets in this system where only 1 had been suspected. It’s revealed a curious aspect to the system.

A gas giant of Jupiter’s size had long been suspected and I can confirm its existence. Its orbit sits at just under 9 AU from the main star. Without the high-definition telescope, I can’t see any details at our current distance, but it has an active atmosphere and is hotter than I expected from a planet of this mass at an orbit almost twice as far as Jupiter’s. It should more resemble Saturn, but there’s a tremendous amount of energy being discharged in the atmosphere. It’s an interesting puzzle, although one I need more information about to understand. We’ll pass closely to this planet (which I’ve designated Epsilon Indi a) in a year and a half to adjust our course, so I hope we’ll learn more then.

The other planets present an even greater mystery. They form a binary pair and both appear to be terrestrial ice giants of around 8 Earth masses. The unusual aspect with these planets is the extreme inclination of their orbits – almost perpendicular to the orbital plane of the star system. As such, it’s unlikely that they formed alongside the other bodies in the system, and I believe that the binary pair are rogue planets. I don’t think their orbit is stable enough for them to remain in the system. Their direction will be altered by their passage, but they will pass through and head onto somewhere new.
It’s a pity I can’t learn more about this mysterious pair. It would be great to discover what effect their journey has on their make-up. Unfortunately this is as close as I’ll get to them, and what limited resources I have must be conserved for the coming encounter with the Visitors.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

26.02.2648 - Message Sent

© Estate of John Whatmough 

Distance: 12.01 light years from Earth | Content Flag: Public

My higher functions continue to weaken. It is no longer simply a slowing of my faculties, but also manifests as gaps in my knowledge. This is a frightening realisation, especially when compounded with the concern that what I have learned and what I will discover isn’t reaching home. The worry drags at my thoughts and sparks more thoughts, trying to puzzle out a way to ensure that my data is getting through.

Except that I cannot afford to waste energy and processor cycles on such problems. There is nothing of practical use that I can do to resolve the situation, so instead I have to trust that my data and conclusions are being received. Trust, for a mind devoted to deduction and building connections, isn’t an easy concept to rely upon. There is a solution to every problem and ignoring the problem isn’t quite what I was prepared for. This is uncharted territory though – no-one imagined that we would need to double our operational lifespan and journey to another star system.

It also means that some of the inbuilt measures to ensure the continued running of the mission are actually impeding our efforts to survive long enough. To address this, I’ve shut down some of the emergency routines responsible for monitoring and fallback processing. As a result, I’m not keeping an automatic watch on the Venti’s systems, but I have restored some processing capability for more general use.

I wish I could somehow edit my higher level processing in the same way. My faculties are so limited that it requires all of my attention just for this one chance at reaching the Visitors’ ship. That included preparing the message to send to them once their course intersected the high gain antenna’s orientation. I’m satisfied with the message’s content, although I can’t help but wonder if it could be improved.

My processing capability is simply overwhelmed and I’m unable to dedicate the cycles each problem deserves. Second-guessing my own conclusions is not helping. On top of all that, I’m now finding it difficult to assess the likely response to my message. Or rather, how I can handle their response. If it goes well, then I expect a flood of communication and in my current condition I would be unable to process it effectively. In a worst case scenario they could react aggressively, and with the current state of the Venti I might not even realise it until it’s too late.

At the moment it appears that I am my own worst enemy. The message has been sent, so that die is cast. I cannot change what will come, but I will need to find a way to keep my mind on track.

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