Sensors

USS Enterprise Sensors Diagram

The Gen1 Enterprise will carry a sophisticated assortment of sensors for probing whatever it encounters in space. Both short range sensors and long range sensors will be included. Two basic types of sensors arrays will be employed: passive and active.

For passive sensing, cameras creating high resolution imagery at every useful wavelength of the electromagnetic spectrum will be included.  For these cameras there will be multiple and diverse lens systems for varying imaging tasks. Depending on the lens system used the cameras can look at objects near in space or far off. One lens system will form a telescope for looking into deep space, a telescope significantly better than the Hubble. It will be especially good at searching for earth-like exoplanets, that is, earth-like planets rotating around stars other than our sun.

For active scanning, some sensors will work in conjunction with transmitters aboard the Enterprise that send out electromagnetic waves and pulses. The sensors will monitor and analyze the signatures reflected back to the Enterprise.

The sensor data collected from the myriad sensors will be used mainly for scientific exploration, but the data is also used for navigation and the tracking of objects in space such as asteroids, satellites, and other spacecraft. Computers on board the Enterprise will always be tracking any and all objects within a few hundred thousand miles of the Enterprise.

Large screens at different points within the Enterprise will display the various objects currently being observed by the ship’s imaging sensors that are looking about in space. These can be seen by all visitors to the ship as they pass by the screens or stop to look at them. (And, of course, a large screen on the Bridge of the ship will display any object that the crew takes an active interest in.)

And the Enterprise will typically be carrying a load of robotic probes that can be sent to a planet, moon, or asteroid to directly examine it. Examples are rovers that land on the surface and roam about, special designed planes that fly in the atmosphere of a planet being visited, and low orbit satellites that examine the surface and atmosphere of a planet or moon.

The 100MW laser will likely also play a role in the collection of sensor data. The laser can serve as a heat source precisely targeted at areas on various bodies in the solar system. The thermal imaging data collected by imaging sensors after a surface feature is heated may be of some scientific value. And if a lens system is put in place to spread the laser beam out slightly, the laser can also serve as a huge and precisely aimed flash light or flash bulb that can light up areas on a planet’s surface that would otherwise be hard or impossible to see with a camera. Use of the 100MW laser with the sensors on the Enterprise is something for the science teams to think about while pondering the range of sensing methods to be used by the Gen1 Enterprise.

Other sensors will constantly monitor radiation levels coming from space and hitting the Enterprise. This includes monitors for galactic cosmic rays (GCRs), radiation from the sun, and radiation from other objects in space such as from the planet Jupiter.  In the case of very high radiation levels, such as during certain eruptions on the sun, crew members will be alerted so that they can head to a storm shelter.

Finally, the Enterprise will have sensors embedded throughout the ship for monitoring the ship internally. There will be air temperature sensors, air pressure sensors, oxygen level sensors, CO2 level sensors, sensors that detect gas leaks, sensors that detect a crack or hole in the hull, motion sensors, sensors for security, radiation sensors on the nuclear reactors, temperature sensors on the engines and nuclear reactors, sensors to support the feedback loop for magnetic suspension of the gravity wheel, sensors to track the ship’s speed, sensors to maintain the proper angular velocity of the gravity wheel, and sensors to monitor the temperatures of the hydrogen fuel cells when used for backup power. Every component and system within the ship identified as having a potential safety hazard will include sensors to monitor it.