Space-Energy Field Attraction Sensors

Or… “Them thingies.”

Abbe_020fThey seem noticeably bulkier than they should.

I added those so-called “space-energy field attraction sensors” which flank the ship’s main deflector dish. Seen on many a Starfleet ship they are often referred to by that technical term in publicized schematics, though some fan works have assigned them completely alternate functions. Under that rather long-winded moniker, they are considered part of the main navigational deflector and long-range sensor array, apparently a combined package, and for logical reason given a starship’s frequent attainment of such extraordinary velocities.

The stars and planets can seem few and far between in comparison to the nearly unimaginable emptiness that is space. And though it appears to be little more than vast stretches of pure absence, space just isn’t as empty as it seems at first human glance. Though diffuse, there is an enormous quantity of matter distributed throughout the interstellar medium (within galaxies), ranging from the most simple of elemental particles to more complex molecules of gas, dust, and other loosely associated substances. Long story short, the faster you go, the uglier things could get. Hence, the importance of the navigational deflector.

Abbe_027cBlending their structure into the hull will be the hardest… SO not my thing

Though they are frequently teamed with a dish, I have often wondered if they are not themselves the main muscle of deflection in such a combo, especially since a number of ships spare the dish completely but still incorporate a group of these forward-aiming doo-hickies. And speaking of long-winded, here’s some of my mental architecture on that multitasking mindset.

Other than some eye-roll-inducing kitbashes, I don’t know that I have ever seen these structures oriented in any way other than what would be considered a “forward aiming” standard. Granted, there are a very limited number of canon designs that even include them, all based upon a pair of canon ship classes (including all evolutionary varieties of a modest number of studio models). Of those models, the Miranda class has them, but lacks a dish like that of the Constitution (both TOS and TMP onward). If present on any other studio model (e.g. Excelsior, Oberth), they would have been of noticeably different style.

Though a TNG era publication, The Next Generation Technical Manual distinguished between static and active elements for the navigational deflector system working in tandem. One is a set of “nested low-level deflector shields” that operate at lower power and maintain the static state, while a more active “deflector beam” is projected far ahead of the ship on specific instances: the active element. The static shields constantly deflect the smallest, most basic materials like interstellar gas and dust, while the beams are meant to deflect limited but more prominent obstacles, meteorites and general space debris.

This reinforced an idea I’d long envisioned since TWOK that while the set of deflector “rings” lining the rim of any (movie era) saucer could adequately brush aside the most basic but pesky micro-particles spread throughout the interstellar medium, those ships sporting significant extensions, or even full-out secondary hulls, might require an additional dish to better discharge the task. Basically, some ships, especially those taller in profile (e.g. Enterprise), might simply do better with a dish as part of their deflector/sensor bundle, while for ships of more “shallow draft” (e.g. Reliant), the less imperative a dish becomes.

I like to think that, perhaps it’s a saucer’s rim deflectors and/or a dish which is better suited to the more static function of sweeping aside the sheer multitude of microscopic particles any ship would be deluged with when racing to ever higher velocities. Meanwhile, those seemingly symbiotic side units could be predisposed to the more precise and specific beam-oriented deflection of much larger particles and objects. It would be the beams’ powerhouse mission to eliminate fewer, yet larger, particles which the weaker deflectors could not simply brush out of its way. Heck, Since the entire setup is referred to as a deflector/sensor system, it could easily be tied into a ship’s long-range detection methods. This also accounts for the “sensor, label” as there would be a need for long-range sensor accompaniments necessary to spot such targets well ahead of the ship.

Even if only labeled a type of sensor, I like to think these units are specialized and multifunctional enough to carry out the projection of such powerful beams. This could explain their suitability on so many ships, canon or otherwise, even those with no discernible implementation of a dish-based navigational deflector.

As much as I love these specific design elements, I have to say, I’m not sold on this particular pair. I was trying hard to keep them as close to the sizes I’d seen in my reference sources by attempting to stretch them to reach all the proper touchstones of the surrounding hull. But they just seem a little too bulky, though they never even fully met all their marks. They are definitely a little too long towards the aft, and this is because they’re really only the first attempt.  They will eventually need to be “melded” into the surrounding hull plates, especially towards the aft, but I am so out of my element there.  I’ve tried several attempts with spline cages, but the sloppy results have been a thorn in my side thus far.  Then again, these partial attempts may just be utterly wrong and I will need to completely revamp them (as opposed to the little makeover session I’d hoped for).

~ by starstation on February 23, 2014.

3 Responses to “Space-Energy Field Attraction Sensors”

  1. They look good, but they seem a bit bulky and oddly placed to me. They seem like they’d impede the function of the dish itself.

    With a lack of an actual dish on the Miranda class, I think the assertion is supposed to be that these things are the navigational deflector.

    • Yeah, they’re SO bulky and I was SO unhappy with them, I began tinkering with their size and even their angles a little to help get a better fit. I should have a slightly improved version up fairly soon.

      I totally agree on the Miranda navigational deflector, but there seems to be some disagreement about it amongst fans as to what the dish is for versus those side units, especially after TNG seemed to makes its navigational deflector dish the magic wand of all things starship. It’s the only reason I went so run-on-sentence about it here in this blog. Some ships just don’t have the dish, and ALL ships have to employ a nav deflector! I’m as fond of the “kill two birds with one stone” approach as the next guy, but within reason. Heaping everything onto that dish just seems silly to me, so I tried to figure out a way everyone could be happy.

      • I have no idea what the side units were supposed to be, besides added detail. They were clearly supposed to represent the “boxes” on the original Enterprise. As you said, their function has been described as a few different things, depending on your source.

        Yeah, a number of ships don’t have a visible dish, but we know they have to have a navigational deflector of some kind or space debris would always be damaging the ship. As far as canon ships go, there are quite a few. Aside from the Miranda class, there’s the Constellation class, Oberth class, Cheyenne class, the USS Centaur and some of the other kitbashes from DS9. The USS Pasteur had a blue strip of lighting that (I assume) was supposed to be the deflector, but no visible dish. Besides the fact that you need one, we know it had one because Data used it. 😉 Then there were all of the shuttles on the shows, only a few had visible deflectors. (type 9, type 10 and the Delta Flyer)

        So, while it’s obvious for ships that have them that the navigational deflector is the dish, there are obviously other kinds.

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