Not All That Glitters Is Gold
The Deuterium Argument [Rebooted]
Location: USS Highlander - Astrometrics
Ryan stared up at the vast starfield that stretched out on the large concave screen in front of him. He sighed heavily and pinched the bridge of his nose and then went back to tapping commands into the main screen. Theo would be arriving any moment, hopefully between the two of them they could figure out some way to scan through the sensor data to locate a source of deuterium.
Theo entered astrometrics. It wasn't a room he had a spent a lot of time in. His research was mostly done in a lab, holodeck, or in the field. Still, the assignement of finding search criteria for the ship and its runabout to use for scanning seemed like a nice change of pace.
"Any luck, sir?"
"Sadly, I haven't found anything useful... yet."
Theo nodded. "I'm not surprised. When you told me the assignment, I did a quick analysis of the long-range data Iota had already collected. The computer spat out a million distinct sources of deuterium within a month's travel. Not exactly helpful."
Ryan shook his head. "Not really... I've been going over what information we have about the area, which isn't much, and haven't really had much luck. I'll happily take any suggestions."
"I was thinking that we could narrow it down a bit, since we're only interested in places someone's already put a refinery," Theo said. "Since that usually means planets with oceans I thought we could use the same search parameters we use to locate possible M-class worlds."
"That could work," Ryan said, tapping at the display. "Spectographic scan?"
"Yeah, I can program in the standard oxygen-nitrogen mix," Theo agreed. "It means we might miss anyone without a standard humanoid-compatible atmosphere, but we have to narrow the list down somehow, right?"
"Sounds like a good idea," Ryan said, moving to another station. "I've also been thinking about using the lateral sensor arrays to tie into the long range subspace receiver."
"They won't have very clear reception of anything," Theo said with a frown. "But I guess if all we need is just to know that something is transmitting, that won't matter, will it?"
"Actually, I thought about re-routing any signals through the runabouts we'll be using as scouts to extend our range. I talked to Petty Officer Stiles, he's pretty sure that he can attach a signal booster to the receiver that can increase our gain, add that systems on the runabouts to that and we should get something."
Theo made a face. "Well, if you two think it'll work, I'm not going to contradict you. I can mostly handle hortas, but otherwise I try to stick to the squishier side of science."
"He seems to be pretty confident it will at least let us here the telltale signs of subspace transmissions far beyond our usual range," Ryan said. "And he assures me that it doesn't violate operation protocol."
"All right.Give me the figures for what you think the range will be and I can program that factor into the search algorithm."
"Sending them over now," Ryan said, tapping in a few commands.
"Okay, so if we take the standard M-class spectrographic search parameters, we should be able to turn up a big pile of possiblities," Theo said as he began making some alteration to the code. "And once we have those generated, we can use the numbers for your sensor mods to figure out how the ships need to be positioned and what course we need to take to pass in range of those potential targets."
"Sounds like a plan," Ryan replied. "Once that's done, we can let the captain know that we might be ready to try."
Theo started the initial search and the astrometrics computer began to comb through the sensor data gathered by the Highlander, Iota Command, and other starships that had passed through the area. It wasn't detailed, outside the immediate and relatively small paths where a ship's main sensors had gone, but there was plenty of optical data. It didn't matter that the light was decades or even centuries old, because barring terraforming the conditions of an M-class world existed for eons. Old-fashioned spectrographic analysis could spot the presence of water and oxygen. Slowly, the main display began to highlight pale blue dots on the star chart. There were already dozens in their immediate vicinity.
"Still quite a few," Theo mused, "but a lot less than we started. It'll take a few hours to really crunch the numbers and suggest a search pattern." No doubt a lot of those were false positives, places with the right trace elements but no real life, but it was better than scanning every single possible deuterium source in the hopes someone was there already.
"Sounds like we have a working system them... or at least better than what we had before. Let's forward our preliminary scans to the bridge and then see about getting this show on the road."
Lt. Ryan North
Chief Science Officer
Ensign Theodore Vega
Asst. Chief Science Officer/Biologist
(Played by Jean Reynard)