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Colony Universe

Alchibah Solar System

by EAB

Observations by William Bartlett

Alchibah System: A First Look

In 2042 Brandon Carter was the first person to enter the Alchibah Wormhole. He was sent by R. J. Hamilton and was expected to return, if possible, within a year. When he failed to show up on time Stan Oliver volunteered to make a second attempt. He was successful though it took him 6 years for the round trip journey. Upon his return he reported seeing no sign of Carter or his ship. Oliver did bring back much of the detailed information covered in the first section of this entry.

Distance: 48.18 LY.

Type: F2-111-1V Star. Just off the main sequence. The -III-IV types have used most of their original hydrogen and are slightly larger and hotter then the sun. Called Sub Giants and Giants. Compared to the Sun, a G1 or G2, F stars are not only hotter but don’t last as long. It is likely Alchibah is about 3.5 billion years old as to the Suns 4.5 billion years. It’s ight, as seen through an atmosphere, should be somewhat whiter. Alchibah may only last another 700 million years whereas the Sun should have another 4 billion.

General Description: The system consists of 6 planets, numerous moons and an extensive asteroid belt with much dust scattering in the plane of the ecliptic.

Planets: 6 Alc1 - Alc6 Names will be added when settled upon.

Alc3. Distance from Alchibah: 201,388,000 miles with a 2,443,000 mile eccentricity.

Orbital Period: 923 days.

Axial inclination: 12 degrees. This should have a moderating influence on seasonal temperature variations.

Diameter: 6.960 miles.

Surface Gravity: .98 Earth standard. The planet is slightly, about 11%, denser than Earth so an elevated heavy metal concentration is likely.

Planetary Day: 19.81 hours.

Surface Characteristics: 72% water 28% land. Two major Continents and numerous Islands of varying size. Temperature on average about 2 degrees colder than Earth.

Climate: From Tropical to Arctic.

Atmosphere: 23% Oxygen, 72% Nitrogen, 5% various.

Number of Moons: 2

Moon 1 Oliver Dia. 950 miles. Orbital Radius 138,000 miles. Period 13.38 days.

Moon 2 Carter Dia. 185 miles. Orbital Radius 16,926 miles. Period 13.56 hours.

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Alc4 Gas Giant, Solar System

by EAB

Observations by William Bartlett

The fourth planet of the Alchibah System.

Dia. 91,100 miles. Orbital Radius 855,805,762 miles. Orbital Period 22.38 years.

Planetary Characteristics: Similar to Jupiter but with a fine ring structure. The Atmospere is extremely dense and composed primarily of Hydrogen and Helium. Exact percentages have yet to be determined.

Moons: 17 Known to date ranging in size from about 4,700 miles to less than 100 miles. One shows signs of an oxygen atmosphere, two show evidence of liquid hydrocarbons.

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Alc3 Planet Alchibah in Detail, Solar System

by EAB

From the Log Files of William Bartlett

We were 2 days out and about 50 million miles away from the planet when the last of the colonists were revived. A general meeting was held after Captain Travis’ welcoming speech with the Historian as moderator. Among other things and after much wrangling it was finally decided to call the planet Alchibah. Too many names were suggested for any other name to get enough general support. One of the colonists objected to calling the planet Alchibah because we would be getting it confused with the star. The Hist told him that if anyone talked about landing on Alchibah or exploring it…. the planet was probably what they had in mind.

Total surface area 152.2 million square miles. Land Area 43 million square miles. About 15 % of which was in the north or south polar regions and hence unsuitable for colonization. The two major continents together held about 85% of the land mass the rest distributed as islands, mostly in the tropic and mid latitudes. Excluding mountainous elevations there would appear to be some 30 million square miles of land area suitable for consideration in choosing a landing site.

Atmospheric Pressure was 87% Earth Standard. This when combined with the slightly higher than Earth oxygen ratio meant that we should experience no problems existing outsides without suits if the biological factors weren’t too hostile. The fact that the oxygen content was high and spectral analysis indicated that the plant life had a chlorophyll based chemistry, were both positive signs. Exactly how close it was to what we were used to could only be determined after landing but at least the land area showed a lot of green.

The planets’ cloud cover seemed much like the Earths’. There were swirling patterns showing circulation. The only electrical activity we picked up were random bursts typical of thunderstorms and lightning. The rain shower indications meant that fresh water should be plentiful. We would need to determine if it was contaminated with heavy minerals or biologicals.

Once we hit orbit very high resolution photos will be streaming into our database and all colonists will need to help in evaluating them. Even from our present distance we were able to use the northern most tip of a triangular island just off the coast of the larger continent to set a prime meridian for a planetary coordinate system.

Some Unresolved Questions:

1. We have three ships capable of landing on Alchibah; Captain Travis’ “Surprise” and the two freighters. Do we first send exploration teams? And if so how many? Who gets sent? We will need a biologist and a gunner at least. Or maybe we just send gunners the first time and have them bring back samples.

2. First landing on a continental site or an island? An island landing might lessen the potential biological threat.

3. Would using the Lancer’s lifeboats to land colonists be too risky and hard on the lifeboats? They can’t have been designed with many planetary landings in mind. They might make good vehicles to use for exploring the systems asteroid belt though. Or crammed with explosives good anti ship missiles.

4. Could we use one of the landers to burn off vegetation and sterilize an area suitable for planting crops?

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Alc3 Alchibah’s Moons, Solar System

by EAB

Under the Moons of Alchibah All Times In Alchibah Hours and Days

Alc3 Planet Alchibah Rotational period 20 hours 18 deg/hr.

Moon 1 Oliver Dia. 950 miles.

Orbital Radius. 138,000 miles. Period 16.21 Days.

Absolute Orbital Motion 1.1 deg/hr. Relative Motion 16.9 deg/hr.

Angular diameter .4 degrees.

Maximum Luminosity Luna = 1 0 .72

Tidal Influence Luna = 100 32.4%.

Rotational period 46 hours. Surface Gravity 7% Earth Standard.

Moon 2 Carter Dia. 185 miles.

Orbital Radius 16,926 miles. Period 13.7 hours.

Absolute Orbital Motion 26.2 deg/hr. Relative Motion -8.2 deg/hr.

Angular diameter .63 degrees.

Maximum Luminosity Luna = 1 1 .85

Tidal Influence Luna = 100 16.8%.

Rotational period 13.7 hours. One side will always face Alchibah. Surface Gravity TBD. Less than 1% Earth Standard.

Earths Moon Absolute Orbital Motion 0.54 deg/hr. Relative Motion 14.46 deg/hr. Angular diameter .5 deg. Surface Gravity 1/6th Earth Standard.

The maximum light reflected by both moons to the planet Alchibah will average nearly 260% greater than that which Luna reflects to the Earth.

The moons tidal effects, when aligned, will be a bit less than half of what Earth experiences. Due to the differing orbital periods most of the time the tidal effects will be at odds and fighting each other. when they are at the point of greatest interference the resultant maximal tide will be about 15% of that experienced on Earth. This will be when the moons are separated in their orbits by some 90 degrees.

View from above Northern Planetary Pole. Flag showing constant reference position. A tangent to the planet at the base of the flag will give a reference horizon line.

The direction of sunrise on Alchibah has been designated East. The outer moon Oliver, when viewed against the fixed stars, will seem to drift slowly westerly across the night sky in a manner very similar to Earth’s Luna. Because Carter, the inner moon, circles Alchibah so much faster than Oliver, or earths moon, it will be seen to travel towards the East as night progresses at a rate slightly greater than 8 degrees an hour and will also seem to change phases. See Illustration. Both moons are heavily cratered as would be expected.

The angular diameter of the star Alchibah as seen from the planet is about 0.3 degrees, slightly larger than half that of the Sun as seen from the Earth, though Alchibah is of course much brighter. This smaller angular diameter, combined with a 200 million mile distance from the planet, means that even with Oliver and Carter having diameters less than that of Luna, eclipses will be quite common and that both moons are capable of totally eclipsing Alchibah. The relative closeness of both moons to the planet is another factor which will greatly increase the frequency of eclipses. Still another is their more rapid orbital periods. With Carter being so close to the planetary surface it should be possible to see it being eclipsed almost every night.

The above discussion is somewhat simplified as nightly positional changes against the stellar background will also be influenced by Alchibah’s 922 day orbital period and axial inclination. For complete Moon and Tide details see the Alchibah System Ephemeris.

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Alc2 Hot and Cold, Solar System

by EAB

Alc2 Second planet of the Alchibah System

Moons: At least 7 captured asteroids. None detected larger than 85 miles in diameter.

Atmosphere: Oxygen and water vapor identified but incompletely analyzed.

Alc2 has a rotational rate equal to 2/3 of its orbital period. It receives roughly 4 times the solar radiation per unit area as does the Earth. Models show the temperature on the Alchibah side will exceed 245 degrees F. at local noon. Due to the slow rotational rate, and radiation into space, temperatures on the side opposite Alchibah, at local midnight, could reach -90 F. Between the two temperature extremes liquid water may be present.

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Alc1 The Fiery Furnace, Solar System

by EAB

Alc1 First Planet of the Alchibah System

Painting by Travis

Orbital Radius: 44.43 million miles.

Orbital period: 106.31 days. Rotational rate Indeterminate.

Moons: None larger than 100 miles.

Planetary diameter: 4,800 miles.

Atmosphere: Vapor pressure levels of metallic gases.

Average Surface Temperature: 2700 deg F.

Alc1 Might be best described as a molten blob of swirling liquid metal. Rotational rate has not been determined as it must vary according to the distance from the planetary center. In the infrared it appears to be a planet composed of liquid metals. The planet does receive about twice as much solar heating as the Solar System’s Mercury, but this would not be enough radiant heat input to account for the heat output radiation signature. In order for Alc1’s surface temperature to be as hot as indicated, Alchibah’s contribution must be augmented by additional volcanic, gravitational, and nuclear heating. This combination makes iron molten on the planets surface.

Alc1 Terragen Image File

Other metals besides Iron are also present, but as of now, (planet fall +5), have not been quantified. The overall wave like surface indicates a rock type substratum of an indeterminant nature but likely high in carbon and silicates.

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Alc3 — Star View Towards Earth

by EAB

As seen from the northern temperate region of Alchibah our former sun is 48.15 light years away and a barely visible 5th magnitude star. It may be seen low in the southern sky and out of the plane of the ecliptic during early Alchibah spring at times when both moons are below the horizon. Alpheratz 3 degrees higher in the sky is easily visible at the 2nd magnitude. The view shows all neighboring stars brighter than magnitude 6 and is approximately 30 degrees wide.

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Thompson Trees

by EAB

Investigation Notes From the Log Files of William Bartlett

The mechanism behind the “Thompson Tree” electrical generation was at first puzzling. How could something rooted in the ground store any kind of a charge at all? And on Earth there was no known vegetation that did anything even remotely similar. But then I asked myself, “Ok, How does an electric eel do it?” After all they swim around in salt water, a pretty good conductor, but still manage to hold a charge. And it turned out the two methods were identical in practice if not detail. I rely on a review of the Wikipedia files stored in our database for much of the following and credit the “Lab Rats“ for the microscopic examination.

The process is called Electrogenesis and Electroreception. Rays and eels and a few other electric fish on Earth have a set of cells called Electrocytes or Electroplaxes They are very thin and stacked like plates in a battery. Each producing about 0.15 Volts. Eels have thousands of such cells. They work by pumping positive sodium and potassium ions out of the cell via transport proteins powered by adenosine triphosphate. Postsynaptically, electrocytes work much like muscle cells The Electrocytes of the fruit we examined taken from the plant which killed Robert Bova Thompson seemed to be able to hold a maximum charge of 0.27 volts though the typical stacked charge was less.

To date we have discovered four distinct types of electrically active vegetation. One low shrub like variety stores it’s charge in a succulent leaf. Examination of the smaller electric plants show smaller voltages (about 100 volts) and currents less than an amp, enough for a nasty surprise to something the size of a person but not likely to cause permanent injury.

A detailed microscopic analysis of the Thompson Apples “Core” showed 4,000 to 5,000 stacked electroplaques capable of 800 volts and 3 amperes of current (2400 watts). Even this might not have been fatal but several of the nearby fruits seemed also to have discharged sequentially which prolonged the current exposure.

The plants have a rudimentary nervous system, Fine hair like growths that detect contact and trigger the charge. It is similar to the triggering system used for leaf closure by the Venus Fly Trap.

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Liberty — Initial Power Requirements

by EAB

Nuclear Batteries, Windmills, Power in General


Charge life at 50% Duty Cycle - Capacitor type, 36 to 48 Hours. A.B. type, 1+ years. Max Sustained Output - 1.75 KW. Burst Mode - 3.1 KW. Charge Rate - 1.2 KWH/Min. Typical time 45 min.

One H.P.= .75 KW.

The 20 H.P. sawmill needs 15 KWH and has its own battery much larger than the ones powering the few robots that are nuclear powered. Any large earth moving equipment, if we can get something freed up from the Mayflower will likely not be nuclear powered. The NB Heater batteries put out 1 KW. They have the power to run robots at less than maximum output but would need modifications for voltage requirements and we don‘t have what we need to make the modifications just yet. There are a couple spare robot sized NBs but that’s it.

The Robot batteries weigh about 35 lbs. each. Heater batteries about half as much and the sawmills battery proportionately heavier. The battery casings are a tough iridium alloyed with tungsten, aluminum, and thorium. Electrons are emitted inside from a radioactive tritium gas and the electrons captured. They along with what would be wasted thermal energy, provide for the output. Because the radioactive elements powering the batteries emit less energy over time they will all need to be replaced in a year or so.

Wind Power

If we get the windmills up in a hurry and they each average 50% of their 20 KWH max and we locate them at a site near or in camp, things are still very tight. Besides running our lights, water pump, small electric tools such as saws and drills, and comm systems, figure 10 KWH on average, we will have to charge the Nano-Capacitor powered bots, which means almost all of them, from the wind generators also. Eventually we will need to move the windmills to the best location we can find.

The 20 KW of spare windmill capacity can probably give 2 days worth of charge to one bot an hour or enough to keep 40 robots pretty much fully charged. In addition the Nuclear powered bots could, with some modification, each charge one or too more up if they were not working 20 hrs a day. Since people are still getting used to the robots few will be used at the high end of their power requirement immediately. When the Galileo is down and unloading it too would have the ability to charge a couple of robots an hour. The Galileo has enough power to do more, just not enough charging equipment. Someone suggested we have a robot use the charging equipment on the Galileo to continually charge depleted Nano Capacitors and off load them whenever she lands. Good idea, that will help.

Solar Power

We lost much of what we had when the Copernicus crashed. We have about 5 KW worth of solar array still on the Mayflower to install but that’s just a drop in the bucket compared to what we need.

So in the short term we can scrape by but we are in need of more generating capacity as we start using the robots to their fullest capacities. Once we begin to use power for additional things like manufacturing we will limit out pretty quickly. And this generating capacity will need to be installed before the “Half Life” of the Nukes cause them to weaken and fail.

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Farming and Farmland — Liberty Twp

by EAB

Farming - Initial Agriculture

How much land we will need to plant will be determined by our population size and farming efficiency. Back on Earth the most efficient farmers the world had ever seen resided primarily in the United Stated of America on the North American continent at the end of the 20th century. With about 300 million acres under cultivation a population of 300 million was supported. Naturally some foodstuffs were imported but there was a large net export advantage especially in grain crops. Of this land almost 25% was planted in corn, a major portion of which was used for livestock feed and ethanol production. With corn the astounding output of 120 bushels an acre had been achieved by the late 20th century

The factors which made such an unprecedented productivity possible were, on the natural side, climate, soil condition and an abundance of water. The human induced factors of large scale farms, machine use, fertilization, insecticide development and genetically modified plant species were equally important.

The site of our initial landing was chosen with a view to climate and water availability. In terms of temperature we should be fine but the growing season will be 2 and a half times as long. This will add problems of storage and the need to grow multiple crops each year. Timing of planting so that the crops become available sequentially rather than all at once will be important for an efficient harvest. If the soil type is favorable, a factor which presently appears likely, we will not have for some time the amount of special machinery, insecticides, and fertilizers employed on earth.

Some types of foodstuffs require special types of pollination; the use of bees for instance. We have brought along bees, but will they survive? Or if they cannot will another of Alchibah’s species take over their function? Even the presence and actions of earthworms have a large effect on crop yields and we have brought worms with us but the same questions asked about bees apply to them. We have only limited abilities to improve yield by genetic modification. It will be critical that we overcome any of the problems which present themselves as rapidly as possible.

We have hydroponics on board the Mayflower but this is a stopgap and short term aid at best. Incapable of rapid expansion, production requirements and transportation make it more labor intensive than food grown planetside. Most colonists have never eaten a real, non greenhouse tomato, when they do another one of the reasons will become obvious.

In the efficient areas on Earth direct farm work is the occupation of less than 2% of the population. Seven of the colonists were engaged as such before they joined us, luckily a higher number than chance alone would have provided. A survey and average of this “expert opinion”, suggests that we will be doing very well indeed in the short term, (short being 5 Alchibah years), to reach 15% of Earth values with 10% being far more likely.

Therefore, planning for a population of 200, to include expected births, about 2000 acres, or over three square miles, should be put under cultivation as quickly as possible. We will need double or triple the number of farmers initially though the use of robots might eventually minimize or eliminate this problem. Until we learn enough to teach the robots there seems no alternative. Provision for preserving and storing foodstuffs during the long non-growing times will also require additional labor at first but could well be taken over by the farmers once they were established.

It is already certain that the agricultural output will not be needed for fuel production as the abundant forests and clearing of land will provide more than enough biomass into the foreseeable future.

For additional discussion see Farming Livestock and Animal Husbandry.

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