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Finding you - Ships passing in the night?


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A friend of mine and I had a pretty intense conversation over Suprnova the other night.


He has a position close to the core as well and hasn't found anybody else.


We use SENS orders in every system we encounter looking for signs of contact.


We eventually came to the conclusion that there are only two solid ways to find other empires:


1) End up in the same warp point

2) End up orbiting the same planet


Has anyone found another empire using a SENS order? And if so, how many AUs out were they?




A seemingly random statistic placed in there for roleplaying purposes may hold the key for why we aren't finding each other. After all, its been confirmed that some empires have a mere 5 systems between their homeworlds....so whats the problem?



1 AU is approximately the distance between Earth and the Sun and measures orbital radius. After a couple centuries, we estimate the dimensions of an AU to be somewhere in the range of 150 million kilometers. The heliopause ("edge" of the solar system) is estimated to be about 100 AU from the Sun (we hope to find out in about 30 years with Voyagers 1 and 2) After 26 years (come this September), Voyager 1 will have travelled over 88 AUs.


GEODSS, an assembly of three telescopes located in the White Sands Missile Range, can now detect objects the size of a sfotball over 40,000 kms in range.


Setting SEVERAL HUNDRED technicalities aside, lets presume that our Mk I Sensors are able to scan for physical objects using Hypergravimetric devices (still in the works here on Earth) with a range 10,000 times that of our best land-based technology....or say....a detection range of 400 Million kilometers.


If one AU is 150 Million kilometers in distance and my WAG estimate of Mk I Sensor technology comes to about 400 Million Kilometers, that means we can detect up to 2.7 AUs at any given "attempt"


I have seen AU distances in SNROTE for other warp points within the same system in excess of 2,300 AUs!


Possible conclusions:


1) Mk I Sensors are VASTLY superior to any detection devices we currently have on Earth if we are indeed able to SENS every physical object in a system in one try


2) We will need to develop MUCH stronger sensors in order to easily detect the presence of other fleets within a system using a SENS order


3) Both 1 and 2


I doubt the database keeps track of orbit position, so I'm guessing we are dealing strictly with AU distances between object within the database.....WP1 is X AU from WP2 and X AU from 1st planet etc.





You catch my drift?


If my friend and I's theory is correct, we need stronger sensors to find each other. I'm certain that some of us ARE strangers passing in the night and the only surefire way to detect the presence of aliens in your system is to camp each and every warp point with a ship (or if super paranoid, send a ship to each orbital as well in case they "slipped by" the first time)




If I manage a successful SENS, I'll post it and at least provide the initial data on our AU-based theory of sensor strength. I'm certain most of you would post the same.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on the topic!

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Actually, I think you malign current detection capability. The real thing to look for in space is heat - ships, etc. are going to radiate it, and it's impossible (without some serious handwaving) to get rid of it. In short, a ship under power is going to stand out like a bonfire in a parking lot. You'd be able to see it a LONG way off, IF you are looking for it. The trick is to have enough sensors to get total sky coverage at any given time.

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It may a bit simplistic and hasn't had any confirmation yet, but I read the following possibilities into the descriptions of the 3 types of basic sensors:


Short Range - adds to combat a bit, but you'll (always) see someone in exactly the same orbit (much like other games of this genre)


Medium Range - you'll see someone if they're in an adjacent orbit, or round a moon that you're near.


Long Range - you'll see someone in the same system.


Apart from the first one, I assumed you'd actually have to use the SENS order to benefit; and that there was some element of chance.



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Short range sensors are specifically used for anti-mine capabilities. Since they aren't required or even helpful for long range weapons they certainly are of very little if any use for finding ships many AU's apart. I have no idea what the ranges categories are, but I highly doubt they are in the AU ranges unless we are trying to approximate an "Honor Harrington" type of space combat. I am willing to bet that some of the advanced stuff that has been found will eventually give us system wide coverage, but until then it's colocation or nothing.


Even with colocation, detection isn't a given. I have seen the combat reports that indicate a fleet came through a warp point and "surprised" the fleet stationed at the warp point and then proceeded to blow it up. You would think a fleet sitting at the warp point staring at it would see the fleet coming through and not get caught napping.




I think all of the sensors, short, medium and long are basically just for combat. What I am really waiting for are th Fleet Patrol Sensors. These sound like they could do the job a bit better.



Edited by hobknob
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Respectfully, I dont have the time nor resources to fully flesh out our current methods for analyzing objects in the solar system. My knowledge is confined to being active in the Astrophysics forums and studying for my degree in the subject so I am far from an expert. The PhDs write the papers. I just do the homework and try to have fun with it :)


I used GEODDS as the baseline in my little analysis.


GEODSS is entirely optical. [/i]Optical [/i]telescopes are by far the most effective and reliable method for tracking objects given our current tech. (ie Hubble and the computer-assisted network of land-based optical telescopes used to track Near-Earth Objects...see NASA Near-Earth Object Program)


As an aside, Meteors begin to emit light once they start burning up in the atmosphere giving IR observatories a chance to distinguish it.....until then....we need radio and optics to detect object close to Earth. This is a big deal right now as there is a large effort to develop an early-detection system for incoming objects like asteroids and coments in order to reain in compliance with certain International Nuclear Arms Treaties.


Unless we got SUPER lucky, no IR telescope in the world could pick up something as small as a starship hanging out near Pluto.




Infrared telescopes detect objects from their light emission ....specifically, light beyond the visible spectrum (hence the term infrared.) And very LARGE emissions at that. The glow of a thruster would suffice....but c'mon...thats a lot of competition for a lwoly IR device to rely on. I suppose there is a possiblity that our alien visitors would emit a ton of light coming from the ship. /shrug One can travel across space without emitting radiation rather easily provided you turn your thrusts off.



The new Space Infrared Telescope Facility will use IR to check out objects that emit massive amounts of IR light from great distances.


However, objects that do not emit light, cannot reliably be catalogued using IR.


You mentioned "a ship under power is going to stand out like a bonfire in a parking lot. You'd be able to see it a LONG way off, IF you are looking for it."


True....IF we are looking right at it.....2000 AUs...a diamater of 4000 AUs is a massive span of space. Lots of competing radioactive sources....it would be like finding a needle in a haystack. It will be hard to detect the radiation of a starship using our current resolution.


Even if a MK I Sensor was optical, something akin to a Hubble Telescope, it would require enormous effort and time to "scan" an entire system. Also imagine strapping one of those things to your ship from a design vantage. LOL


BUT Im certain the Mk I Sensors are small, compact and sleek using lots of tiny cameras and computers to simulate the large bulky lenses of our current telescopes.


But comparing Supernova to modern day capabilites is silly, of course :ph34r: I was simply trying to present an explanation on why we may not be finding each other using SENS (for now)


Pete and Russ are clever chaps and I know for a fact they would account basic science into their game (and have)


We shall see!


I would be super curious how a Mk I Sensor works.


Another digression: If you compare the "weight"* of an Mk I Sensor (100 tons) and the Hubble Telescope (12 tons) that might give you an idea the potential of an Mk I Sensor presuming it uses optical lenses in addition to IR, gamma, radio, etc to detect things.


* An objects weight changes in relation to the force of gravity on the mass of an object. I'm assuming the weight of both to have an equivalent g acting upon them.






As for Sensors being used JUST for combat....I disagree :)


Mk III Short Range Sensor

(Sensor Classification)


Pre-requisite Technology: Mk II Short Range Sensor

Sensor Strength: Adequate

Counters: Minefields


The Mk III Short Range Sensor is a third generation naval sensor system. It is a

self-contained, multi-purpose unit capable of handling all routine navigational duties as well as serving as the primary target acquisition and fire control sensor system during combat. Accordingly, the system has a 360 ° field of vision and is equipped with the latest in sensor technology. (100 tons) 100 Improved Transaluminum - 400 Improved Electronics


Ok - so Short Range Sensors probably wont get the job done as you suggest - however - I think the "sensor tree" allows for it. There is a possiblity that more obvious technology will arrive to maximize the results of a SENS order.


However, in my EXPL results, I find plenty of advanced "Short, Medium and Long" type Sensors and nothing else that suggests a separate tech line. Therefore, I agree more closely with Ur-Lord Tedric. Perhaps Locklyn or someone has found a EXPL tech that could clarify? :)


Ive neglected getting my hands on Medium and Long Range ANZ orders though I probably could if I begged somebody and could post them here if I got their permission.



Any chance you could share that combat report with us? :D



PS = Last epic post! LOL Damn thats way too long for how I write in these forums.

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You make some good points, and I'm certainly no astronomer. If you really want to get into a good discussion on the topic, there are folks a lot more expert than I on this topic over at the sfconsim-l group (science fiction conflict simulation group). Some of them really are astronomers and astrophysicists. I was cribbing a good deal from them with the "bonfire in a parking lot" quote.


But yeah, trying to draw real life parallels to SN is silly :)

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That was a cool quote :) I'll have to check that out for sure. that sounds like an awesome forum. I tried my best to explain my little corner of knoweldge but I'm sure it sounds all jumbled and maybe there are more efficient ways of using IR than I've learned (guaranteed)


I guess what bums me out is not thinking about this whole SENS thing earlier...here I am content with 1 PF in each system doing a dinky SENS looking for people :lol:


/waves to whoever knows exactly where the hell I am even though I have no clue who you are :ph34r:

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On the subject of detection I just has a rather intresting turn.


One of my Frontier Cruisers which are heavily equipped with both short and medium range Mk1

sensors detected an Alien fleet as is was traversing a jump point.


My fleet moved to a warp point detected the alien fleet then jumped to the next system


this contradicts the belief that both vessels must end up at the same location for any kind of detection chance. hmmmm

Honored One Daz

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Here's the way I see sensors and the SENS order working.


The better the sensor, the bigger the bonus added to fire control during combat.


The better the sensor, the bigger the bonus for countering mines (or what ever else the ANZ says a particular sensor counters).


The better the sensor, the farther it's range is in AUs for detecting alien fleets.


Thus a MK I Short Range Sensor in orbit around a planet at 0.2 AU might detect a fleet that is located at a warp point that is at 0.3 AU, but no further.


However, the descriptions for these early sensors don't mention the ability to detect alien fleets and the SENS order says a fleet issuing this order will attemp to locate fleets at its "current location", so I could be wrong.


Some insight from the GM's would be most helpful.

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