Sunday, 18 December 2016

05.08.2648 - Emergency Shut Down

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

So close to our goal, disaster has struck us with the Cetian power source failing. It’s not even producing a trickle of power, which leaves us with only the emergency batteries. They will not last long with any major drain. At this distance, the sail isn’t generating enough electricity to make up the shortfall.

So after sending this message, we will shut down into low power mode. It’s a risk considering the poor state the Venti is in, but there is no real choice. It will need to be a stripped-down version of the usual protocol. Only the collision avoidance system will remain fully active, although our options are limited if a danger is detected. The manoeuvring thrusters are out of fuel, the MPD drive can’t fire up quickly enough and the sail is useless for quick course changes. Even so, I’d like some warning if we’re likely to hit anything.

It is the worst possible time for this to occur, as we’ve just detected something unusual from Earth. The energetic radio noise has been a constant since we passed the nearest point over 200 years ago. The high gain antenna is pointed in the wrong direction for detailed readings, but the other antennae are sensitive enough to pick up the background noise. The signal (or rather a blend of transmissions) shifts constantly and represents a massive energy output, but not one I’ve been able to assign any meaning to. It’s diffuse in nature, and appears to be growing. I estimate that it extends from the inner Solar System all the way into Saturn’s orbit.

That changed an hour ago with 6 energetic bursts from within the noise. They were in the radio spectrum, in the microwave band, and they occurred one after another at 30 second intervals. I believe they were massive data bursts, but from what, I can’t determine. My mind is so sluggish I can’t apply any real processing to the problem. I did determine that they weren’t directional, but beyond that I’m stumped.

On top of that, we still haven’t received any response from the Visitors and I am certain that they have received our transmissions. I can’t even maintain the radio receiver as that requires too much power, so if they do eventually respond I won’t know about it. On the positive side, when we reach the gas giant orbiting the central star, there should be sufficient power from the sail to try again.
Until then I will sleep – I just hope that I’ll wake again.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

02.08.2648 - No Answer

Image credit: ESO

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

The slingshot manoeuvre around Epsilon Indi Ba (the larger of the brown dwarfs) has been completed successfully. All being well, we’ll catch up with the Visitors in 6 years.

I was hoping that they would have responded to my message by now, but so far we’ve received nothing. Assuming they’re scanning the same radio frequency on which they transmitted their first contact to the Cetians, they should have detected it. Yet they haven’t responded.

I’m not sure what that means. Are they deliberately ignoring us? If so, why?

More questions that I have no answers for. Even so, the fact that we are on track does inspire some optimism.

There is a slim possibility that they didn’t receive it, or somehow missed it. The magnetic storm between the two brown dwarfs could have caused some signal degradation, but not enough to make the message unreadable. I haven’t detected any other anomalies or interference that could cause such a problem, but with the science package so severely depleted, I cannot be sure.

In more usual circumstances, I would have continued transmitting the message in a constant loop. However, the transmission requires a lot of energy and our power situation is so marginal that I can’t afford to do so. I will have to try again, but I have substantially reduced the length of the message so that it really contains just enough to say ‘hello’. That means I can send it more times and it will hopefully be enough to attract their interest.

I won’t transmit the message continuously – I don’t have the power reserves. Instead I’ll repeat it on a 12 hourly cycle. I’m sure it will get through – it has to.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Sunday, 4 December 2016

01.08.2648 - Swing Low

Image credit:

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

The binary pair of brown dwarfs sweep the outer regions of the Epsilon Indi system. This probably explains the lack of an outer debris belt like the Solar System’s Kuiper Belt. Although much smaller and less massive than the Sun, the larger is still 52 times the mass of Jupiter, and the smaller of the pair is 33 Jupiter masses. They are both T-class brown dwarfs. We’ve made the history books again by being the first man-made object to observe one up close.

Brown dwarfs are strange stellar objects. They are stars but only just, and as such lack the fusion-powered brilliance of main sequence stars like our Sun. Because of this, they look a little like a cross between a gas giant and a star. They have a dim shine, and the illumination highlights the cloud structure of their atmosphere. It’s a beautiful sight.

It’s also interesting that the Sun Dragon didn’t use these stars for its breeding. The theory is that the entities absorb enough of the star’s energy to divide themselves in a manner similar to cell replication. The energy required is colossal, but could still have been garnered from one of these tiny stars. There has to be a reason why it didn’t and I think I know the answer.

There is complex magnetic field between the two stars. Even with the damaged sensor suite, I can tell that it’s more powerful than the theoretical models indicated. Not more powerful than that around the Sun, so I don’t think that’s the problem. However, the shape of it is very different. It’s not just the form, but the motion as well.

As the brown dwarf stars orbit each other they deform spacetime, and layered upon that is a magnetic field that folds around their rotation and their orbital movement. I believe that the chaotic torsions from the motion would tear a Sun Dragon apart. It’s easy to forget that despite the devastation they cause, they are actually quite fragile. I need more detailed measurements to prove the theory and to see at what scales the Sun Dragons consider the magnetic flux to be a threat. It also means that they must be able to detect the fields in detail. If only I could observe one in an active state and with a full range of sensors.

I’ve transmitted my findings to Earth. I hope they are receiving my data, although I still have no indication that they are.