Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S is for Sensor Substation (Star Morphs A to Z Challenge)

Without sensors, a ship is blind and deaf in the Black Desert of Space.  With sensors, everyone sees everything.  There doesn't seem to be a lot of middle ground...

The concept of "Stealth in Space" is one of  the mainstays of science fiction, and one of the most inaccurate.  We'll get FTL and teleportation before we get a practical cloaking device.  That's just the way it is.  Something as small as the Space Shuttle can be seen on IR from here to Pluto - there's no way you're hiding a mile-long dreadnaught with a hyper matter reactor.  The only thing that makes any kind of "stealth" remotely possible in science fiction with any kind realism is the fact that high traffic situations, areas of space full of beam spam or subject to a Macross missile massacre will be so full of obvious data that figuring out which proverbial needle in the stack of needles is your target will be a non-trivial problem.

1.Maintenence Access: This has a lot more import than in some other areas - the data cables needed to move the deluge of information feeds need a lot of love and care.

2.Ladder: Again, the ladder well is also full of electrical junctions and whatnot, making it another de facto  maintenance accesss.

3. Lift: ...I can't really think of anything new to say about Lifts.

4. Integrators:  There are two of these - one for weapons control, one for navigation - that integrate all of the data produced by the other computers and workstations in the Sensor Substation.  The amount of data going through this station on a constant basis is so massive that only cyborgs and robots are able to keep up.

5. Secure Servers:  Most SF starships have massive computer cores.  This is because the idea of central computers was developed in Star Trek and other SF before mainframes were replaced by modern networks.  Realistically, a starship's computer system would be a web of interconnected servers that provide disbursed information processing and multiple redundancy.  So this bank of servers are where most of the number crunching for the sensors is done.

6. Clean Room: The tech that work on the servers must change in this space before entering the ultra-sterile server room.

7. Sensor Masts:  These are modular and handle multi-spectrum light, radiation, and gravitic detection.

8. Crew Pit:  The sunken level next to the outer bulkhead is full of processing stations and sensor monitors.  These can be monitored by robots, but human monitors are more effective at programming the computers and prioritizing data processing.  The stations are redundant and often perform the same routines simultaneously -  the better to prevent lapses in concentration or minor glitches from causing vital data to be lost. 
      The other function of the sensor substation's crew pit is to provide targeting and fire control for the Kinetic weapons on board.

9. Offices/Break Room: The rigors of manning the sensor stations require frequent breaks in order to assure maximum alertness.  In addition, the supervisors of the sensor substation have offices here.

10. Outer Hull:  Like the hull around the defensive cannons, the skin of the ship around the sensors is of necessity thinner than the armored sectors elsewhere.   In order to split the deference between thick skins and sharp eyes, the sensors are usually kept inside "trenches" with the QuiD Cannons to protect them.  Of course, the energy from the cannons will interfere with the sensors....

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