Message in a Bottle

jedion357's picture
jedion357
February 29, 2012 - 9:04pm
Your ship missed jumped and crashed. It doesn't look like you can leave. Radio is a total FUBAR but you don't plan on laying down to die. How would one go about putting a message in a bottle to toss into the galactic sea?
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!
Comments:

iggy's picture
iggy
March 1, 2012 - 12:51am
Conventional radio signals directed at known stars.  It would take years for the signals to reach the nearest inhabited stars but that's what it is like to wait for a bottle to find a inhabited shore.
-iggy

jedion357's picture
jedion357
March 1, 2012 - 5:54am
One idea I had was canabalizing the on board atmoprobes and or survey satellites to leave a beacon in orbit in the hopes that a either a scout ship exploring or a missjump brings someone else to the system to find it.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

vadersson's picture
vadersson
March 1, 2012 - 5:34pm
Here is another idea, if you could rig up a strong laser (or better, bank of lasers) it could be a light speed beacon.  Use some astrophysics to figure out where to shoot it and the nearest planet should get to see it.  Even passing ships might see it, but that is less likely with a laser.

Another idea is an atomic explosion in space.  I beleive the radiation burst would be detectable but again not faster than light.

With a smashed subspace unit, your options are kind of limited.

BTW, Laser idea totally from The Mote in God's Eye my Niven and Pourell.  (I spelled that wrong, I know.)

Thanks,
Duncan
Follow me @vadersson on Twitter
Boldly go where no one has gone before in Star Trek Online - @vadersson
May the Force be with you in Star Wars the Old Republic
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Phelan - Jedi Guardian, The Order of SixtySix
Hesrat - Commando, The Order of SixtySix

Deridre - Scoundrel, Heroes of the Ex

jedion357's picture
jedion357
March 1, 2012 - 6:17pm
vadersson wrote:
Here is another idea, if you could rig up a strong laser (or better, bank of lasers) it could be a light speed beacon.  Use some astrophysics to figure out where to shoot it and the nearest planet should get to see it.  Even passing ships might see it, but that is less likely with a laser.

Another idea is an atomic explosion in space.  I beleive the radiation burst would be detectable but again not faster than light.

With a smashed subspace unit, your options are kind of limited.

BTW, Laser idea totally from The Mote in God's Eye my Niven and Pourell.  (I spelled that wrong, I know.)

Thanks,
Duncan


that seems rather ingenius but any deviation in the laser and it will miss the star system you want to hit.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
March 1, 2012 - 8:14pm
I would nuke a pasture spelling HELP. ;)

Karxan's picture
Karxan
March 1, 2012 - 9:02pm
The New Galactica had an episode where a nuke was set off by a cylon skinjob so it led the cylons right to where the humans were. SO, I think that there is something to that idea. Besides who doesn"t love blowing up a nuke anyway?

rattraveller's picture
rattraveller
March 2, 2012 - 11:52am
Guys you are realizing that any of these messages are only going to be useful to rescue your kids and grandkids right? With out FTL communication you are pretty much not going to get your message to anyone if they can understand it anytime soon.

One of the most truthful scenes in Sci-Fi fiction was in Aliens 2 when they told Riply she had been unconscious for 57 years because no one had spotted her little ship.

You are talking about sending a message using radiation (light or other kinds) amid the entire background radiation of the galaxy. PLUS the Frontier is more densely  populated star wise. So while the stars are closer there is MUCH more background radiation to hide your signal in.

Forget rescue, declare your self King, Queen or Ruler and start saying "It's good to be the King" or whatever you choose.
Sounds like a great job but where did you say we had to go?

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
March 2, 2012 - 12:03pm
It's good to be me 'cause I'll outlive all you humans!
Photovoltaic paint baby!
Tongue out

rattraveller's picture
rattraveller
March 2, 2012 - 1:52pm
Woot two words "SPARE PARTS"

Go watch the movie "Robots" again if you have any questions.
Sounds like a great job but where did you say we had to go?

vadersson's picture
vadersson
March 2, 2012 - 3:22pm
I can't disagree about needing to stand out, but as you also pointed out the Frontier is not very far apart.  Depending on where you are, the message could easily take less than 10 years.  However, that is still a long time.

Building some tiny courier ship would be a better idea, but might not be as easy.

Thanks,
Duncan
Follow me @vadersson on Twitter
Boldly go where no one has gone before in Star Trek Online - @vadersson
May the Force be with you in Star Wars the Old Republic
Server: Vrook Lamar
Phelan - Jedi Guardian, The Order of SixtySix
Hesrat - Commando, The Order of SixtySix

Deridre - Scoundrel, Heroes of the Ex

jedion357's picture
jedion357
March 2, 2012 - 5:13pm
STORY HOOK/IDEA: a ship, any ship anytime frame will work, but one that disappeared hhmmmm say 20-30 years prior. Crew sent a message in a bottle, perhaps just STD. Radio signal and its just been detected. Adult child of the captain is looking for a scout crew and or ship. Insurance carrier just caught wind and wants an rep along for the ride because they paid out millions. Owner of the cargo is interested. Others have reasons to be interested. Secrets and mysteries abound.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
March 2, 2012 - 5:28pm
Great story Tom.
I can imagine two sessions; 1.) The PC's play out an adventure finally crashing and sending out a singal. 2.) New PC's (any or all of the ones you mention) play out an adventure finding their former PC's.

:-)

jedion357's picture
jedion357
March 2, 2012 - 5:46pm
Actually I was thinking more of a "Lost" meets star frontiers and several sessions of unravelling mysteries the get weirder and weirder- almost Twilight Zone-ish. So this would be only an adventure for the searchers. At least that's how I'd run it.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

iggy's picture
iggy
March 2, 2012 - 7:48pm
The trick with the radio signal is that the format used for encoding the message is known so the many communication systems throughout the frontier that listen to the noise will be able to decode what they know is a pattern.  Also the message must be sent over and over for years until help comes and shuts it off.  The constant repetition increases the odds of being heard.
-iggy

rattraveller's picture
rattraveller
March 3, 2012 - 6:09pm
So like in the TV show LOST the French lady's message being sent with a counter might help get it heard.
Sounds like a great job but where did you say we had to go?

thespiritcoyote's picture
thespiritcoyote
March 3, 2012 - 10:11pm
I would go with a tiny courier ship, if possible... figure most ships have such a device on board... a FTL Unmanned Fast Action Communication Pod could take up less space than a missile on board military vessels... and still be smaller than a life-pod on any civilian vessel...
two or three could be tucked into even a privateer or shuttle ship as an off-hand assumption.

If used with a free refit at every port of call, they make excellent communication couriers... just passing through a system? drop one off and let it broadcast all the digital data it holds before docking itself at the nearest port... dock in the next system, get a fresh pod replaced, and any others updated automatically.

Crashing on a distant world? launch them on courses to the nearest x number of systems and they will have your current situation in a few weeks...
ie. FUBARED & FLOATING DEAD... SEND HELP... btw: you have mail!

nothing short of that scenario will be worth anything inside of decades... even centuries!
everything else is at lightspeed or slower.... and likely FAR to expensive on energy output to maintain for significant durations in emergency situations.
Oh humans!! Innocent We discover a galactic community filled with multiple species of aliens, and the first thing we think about is "how can we have sex with them?".
~ anymoose, somewhere on the net...

so...
if you square a square it becomes a cube...
if you square a cube does it become an octoid?

iggy's picture
iggy
March 3, 2012 - 10:42pm
FTL couriers creates the tech for FTL nukes which has been discussed but I can't find the thread.  Jumping nukes into a system as an attack is not a pretty picture.
-iggy

thespiritcoyote's picture
thespiritcoyote
March 4, 2012 - 3:54am
just because it is possible to use it as a weapon... doesn't preclude it's use as emergency couriers... fact is every ship is already a planet buster...
escape pod once it's locked on a city... and buh-bye continent...
a small fleet of kamikaze shuttle jumpers... buh-bye dinosaur.

in any-case, I imagined these couriers capable of running point-to-point jumps on the outskirts of two systems... automated with enough self motive capability to make the jump and cruise in at a safe speed for retrieval or remote command... not enough to be a danger to regular traffic, or cause safety concerns as an unidentified rouge missile.
Any extra unmanned life-pod-buoy chassis, gutted of all comforts & lifesupport - fitted with a basic minimalist & slow (say 5day/ly, instead of 1day/ly, and a max-J-range of 5ly instead of 10ly), single-shot FTL engine over-filling its main compartment... might work as well.
 
btw: I don't like the idea of jumping directly to a planet or other point in-system at all...
The denser the system is in system-bodies (large or small) the safer it is to just target the outer edge for point-insertion... and the further from anything sensitive regular FTL-arrivals are going to be...

the frontier is dangerous...
 ships miss-jump by mechanical failure,
 calculations are based on false data,
 and entire stations are split in splinters by ships just "passing-by" on their way to some other destination they'll never arrive at...

and... half the technology in use is untested for extreme safety situations... or even operating under fully understood principles... (that's the reality of the Americanas/Australianas/Africanas Frontier also... half the tech of the 17 & 1800's was pushed into use by financial barrons that neither cared nor had any basis for understanding one wit for the safety of the workers... or even innocent by-standers... and they could get away with being innocently-honestly-ignorant too, because regulatory commissions were not invented yet... and no one had a think to come up about any efficient safety studies... a trial-and-error, nae, buh jes ye git'er rite ne'ts tyme! We'ves got progresses to make!)

-----------------------

I just don't use nukes in the setting...

not without playing "consequences-of-evil" in a rocket-punk style, to the side that is willing to get dirty.
If golden-child-hero can-do-no-wrong Flash Gordon the atomik-rocketeer turns the villain's death-ray back on the compound and vaporizes the Emperor in Ming City with all it's unsuspecting inhabitants... well now Mr. Hero, sorry but your a bit soiled now, and lost some of that golden luster... and dirt attracts dirt... personal genre shift to a rocket-punk dystopian Mr. not-so-innocent protagonist.
That young sidekick you picked up in the outskirts of Arborea... yes dear Jimmy Jets...
[with hidden bomb in his chest, as the "innocent survivors" of Ming City now have a target on this "Gordon the Malignant"... the slaughterer of innocents... Ming is dead, but hundreds of splinter-cell "good-guys" hate you... tsk - tsk- tsk!]
you don't mind if Jimmy rides shot-gun like a good sport, do ya Mr. Gordon?
you know, the fine lad is going to make a fine Space Cadet some... *BoOoM*

...wanna play with nukes now?
Oh humans!! Innocent We discover a galactic community filled with multiple species of aliens, and the first thing we think about is "how can we have sex with them?".
~ anymoose, somewhere on the net...

so...
if you square a square it becomes a cube...
if you square a cube does it become an octoid?

jedion357's picture
jedion357
March 4, 2012 - 8:41am
I'm sure FTL courier beacons are possible in SF tech built on an escape pod chassis but don't forget that computing a five light year jump will take 50 hours and since the drone is making the trip unsupervised there should be a higher chance of miss jump. Also I'm wondering where the escape pod got the thrust to excel to 1% C.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

thespiritcoyote's picture
thespiritcoyote
March 4, 2012 - 10:04am
Some safety precautions can be skipped as no organics are on board... and acceleration considerations is one of those safety precautions... reductions in time could balance, and with limits to using standard routes (no calculations) and/or reverse-route data (minimizes calculations), may still reduce this astrogation factor...
As far as how much fuel and of what type... that is calculations I gloss over ATM... have to grab a rocket engineer or give me a couple years... Foot in mouth
The whole point is it needs only be the minimal; astrogation, navigation, and data storage computer, strapped onto an atomik-rocket with an FTL drive... minimal maneuvering fuel one shot burn-it-all to get it there... let someone else pick up the debris... heck it dosn't even have to use the same class of rockets, engines, & drive systems, as used on the people-movers... it could use ones that are far better but much more dangerous to organics...

as it is I suggested a much slower & shorter-range one-way trip over safest jump-lane to the safest insertion point for it's own design specs... increasing that further with the astrogation times and acceleration issues seems redundant.

That maximum 5ly trip takes our "bottle-rocket" class courier-drone 25days, and spends all it's fuel just getting out to the edge of system departure, and back into a pick-up position at the system of arrival... the two extra days of calculated abstraction just seems unimportant.
A manned ship does the same in a quarter the time and far more efficiently on fuel... and is still using more safety-protocols and extra flight-check-steps to ensure the systems are working...
Oh humans!! Innocent We discover a galactic community filled with multiple species of aliens, and the first thing we think about is "how can we have sex with them?".
~ anymoose, somewhere on the net...

so...
if you square a square it becomes a cube...
if you square a cube does it become an octoid?

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
March 4, 2012 - 10:07am
Actually, if you've misjumped and are stranded in a new system, by definition there isn't a standard jump route to send the probe back on. Foot in mouth
Ad Astra Per Ardua!
Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
Managing Editor - The Star Frontiersman Magazine

thespiritcoyote's picture
thespiritcoyote
March 4, 2012 - 11:11am
Yes! good point!
misSurprisedjumps are another matter... the emergency bottle-rocket would need to handle the Find Location on it's own in that case... I knew I had a good reason to suggest having three of them to launch wild-turkey from a crippled ship... hopefully one of them will get proper bearings... or a multi-shot has a greater chance of at least one following another misjump to some system in 10ly (double max-range radius) that actually has a receiver and some sort of jump-trace capability... otherwise they could spend another week trying to descramble the courier's faulty astrogation data.

so.. count that as another 10hrs of a computer astrogation program checking every possible fixed correlative and determining the most likely position before deciding on the easiest route to an assumed known location.

25days+10hrs+50hrs = 660hrs later... you have mail! (dial-up eat your heart out!)

starting to feel like I have actually done this calculation before...
The expect-able reaction time to any SOS is approximately 1 month or greater... lets tack on an extra 6hrs for general computer processing & maneuvering... and call it a nice poetic flat-base-time for the unlucky
traveler.
Oh humans!! Innocent We discover a galactic community filled with multiple species of aliens, and the first thing we think about is "how can we have sex with them?".
~ anymoose, somewhere on the net...

so...
if you square a square it becomes a cube...
if you square a cube does it become an octoid?

jedion357's picture
jedion357
March 4, 2012 - 4:40pm
Well there is no FTL drive field as FTL is a supposed quirk of physics but we could say that a bottle rocket drone has a scaled down AA or AAA class atomic drive that burns itself out and is cheaper to replace then to fix/ overhaul after its one use. I did create a "smoked astrogation program" for the magic of the Frontier article which was an illegal computer program that lets a ship without an astrogator plot a jump having the computer do the number crunching. Its totally illegal as it has a higher chance of a misjump and using one on a ship with passenger accommodation could lead to very stiff penalties. This would allow the drone to pilot itself.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
March 4, 2012 - 5:29pm
Actually, I'd use a AAA ion drive.  It's cheaper.  And since you're using it on a small object I'd allow for an ADF of 3 instead of 1.
Ad Astra Per Ardua!
Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
Managing Editor - The Star Frontiersman Magazine

jedion357's picture
jedion357
March 4, 2012 - 5:50pm
The issue then becomes fuel bunkerage, Ion drive has to have some but an atomic drive just takes a pellet.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

iggy's picture
iggy
March 4, 2012 - 6:14pm
My first thought of response was:

We can't let this drone burn it's engines out jumping into the system.  It needs to have enough fuel to turn around and slow down once in system or you end up with short lived message.  The odds of jumping into a system and finding your trajectory aimed straight at the star are astronomical.  Likely the drone will hit the edge of the star system and just pass through an edge of it.

Then I thought hey I don't like the concept of unmanned jump capable craft but the drone fits the message in a bottle theme best of all ideas mentioned.  So, it is best that the engine burns up on making the jump and then can't slow down.  Just the maneuvering thrusters are enough to slow it enough to drop out of the void and begin transmitting.  Now keeping with the theme of a desperate message in a bottle, this fits my gut dislike of unmanned jumps.  Let me lay out some thoughts.

Unmanned jumps introduce some horrific weapon potentials.  They put hard working astsrogators out of work Wink.  And they mean that void travel is so well understood scientifically that it will soon be modernized and automated, not frontier level new tech.

Jump tech is still after hundreds of years a new science and all of the rules are not understood.  So, automating a jump is very problematic and foolish to bet lives and resources on.  Most likely you are going to miss jump.  As such it is only commercially viable when skilled astrogators are involved even on established star routes.  My guess is that we don't pay these guys enough.

So, our lost voyagers find themselves in a desperate situation.  Stuck in a system from a miss jump and with a busted ship to boot.  Their only hope is to limp to the nearest habitable planet and take the shuttle and life pods planet side.  On the way the ship's engineer and astrogator figure they can repair the least damaged engine with parts from the others and jump it as a beacon to the nearest frontier system.  A long shot but they're desperate.  Past jump capable probes researchers have tried have always failed to make their jumps and either miss jump or are lost forever.  Their probe launches and jumps but ends up missing the system it was targeted too.  The astrogator was unable to make radioed telemetry updates as the probe approached jump speed.  Fortunately for them it miss jumps into an uninhabited system with a mining survey in it.  They pick up the signal and track down the probe.  They relay the message up their corporate ladder and to Star Law.  After a few months the survivors are found by a UPF exploration ship sent to find their system and they all make the evening news and tabloids.
-iggy

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
March 4, 2012 - 7:13pm
I agree, iggy.  I'm not keen on allowing unmanned jump capable ships around either.  But as a desperation measure, I'd allow the attempt but with a high chance of failure.  I like the jumps to be non-standard even along a well traveled route.

Ad Astra Per Ardua!
Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
Managing Editor - The Star Frontiersman Magazine

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
March 4, 2012 - 10:18pm
Does unmanned include ships with computer AI or robots? Both of which can have an astrogator program. As an unmanned example and if memory serves I made the FTL Torps a point and shoot device. Not totally unmanned.

iggy's picture
iggy
March 5, 2012 - 7:22am
Where is that thread on FTL Torps.  I was looking for it earlier to reference the pluses and minuses of unmanned FTL.
-iggy

Anonymous's picture
w00t (not verified)
March 5, 2012 - 8:19am
[[FTL Torpedoes]] Star Fronteirsman #11-p10