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Future-proofing Descent's cosmology


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#1
defcon_x

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As astronomers study the stars they are finding that that vast majority (if not all of them) are comprised of two or more orbiting bodies.

 

This has left the question of our own system's "construction" increasingly exposed to questioning. There is a growing number of astronomers considering that we are part of a binary system and the heliocentric theory is just as flawed as the geocentric theory as the ultimate configuration of our system.

 

But, if it's not the sun that "everything goes around", what is it that "everything goes around" and mustn't there be a center?

 

Well, apparently, if the stars we are studying (once again, the vast majority like 80 to 90% if not more) are any indication, it is seemingly increasingly likely that what is in the middle of every system is actually ....

 

nothing.

 

NO thing at all.

 

Things orbit other things without one clear center but a complex of hierarchies just like moons going around planets, which in turn are "moons" of other planets and which does not cause any tidally locked body to suddenly take off and orbit a larger body at random. Instead a sort of electromagnetic tidal locking seems to be taking place.

 

It's still safe to say the P-Type planets (Saturn, Jupiter, Pluto, etc.) orbit the central goings-ons and the Asteroid Belts are outside of the Mars-Sun binary conundrum.

 

However, the stars exhibit behavior of orbiting one another in spirographic or trochoidal motions. And it's possible for enormous things like big stars (ahem, or sun) to orbit much much smaller planets (ahem). One case in point is the latest studies of Sirius A and Sirius B (and theoretical Sirius C, an analog of Earth, at the barycenter of a binary pair). What's more, there seem to be a number of tiny bodies with a "pull" that are too small to be considered stars as we know them and we are now considering that some of these bodies may be planets. Of course, Newtonian gravity is incomplete, but this really questions much of what we know.

 

Stellar Metamorphosis theory even suggests planets are just old stars.

 

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All this is to say ... Descent so far has done a good job of avoiding the issue.

 

In existing lore, the player ship approaches a body, and lands on it. The complexities of trajectories and orbits are not addressed.

 

I think this is the wisest way. I hope D:U keeps it like that.

 

To make the Descent universe "safe" from broken, controversial or newly re-controversial theory it is best to avoid making something as weird as a Flat Earth or geocentric determination (which heliocentrism seems set to join soon if modern astrophysics is any indication).

 

And so I just wanted to give a nod to the old way of Descent 1 - 3 where we just "are" at a setting all of a sudden and there is no weird narrative attempt to frame our entire universe or even where Earth is.

 

It leaves the controversy aside and means we can feel more immersed in the reboot.

 

If we must have an epic scene that says something old-fashioned like "Earth, the third planet from the sun" or something equally outdated, I hope that kind of narrative text/diagramming can be avoided lest we look like Columbus with his "map to India".


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#2
dunkelza

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Cancels plans for Descent: Underground - The Flat Earth... ;)

 

Well, I can honestly say we weren't planning to have a lot of discussion of planetary orbital mechanics. 

 

Imagine the old Descent...

 

"Material Defender, we need you to plot a Hohmann Transfer to an object at the barycenter of the Sol-Jupiter orbital resonance..."  

 

FWIQM93.png

 

This isn't Kerbal Space Program, after all!


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#3
Splotchie

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Oh deer.

Aren't you forgetting that the first Descent imagined Europa as a rocky orangeish place with a not-inconsiderable amount of lava?


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#4
defcon_x

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Oh deer.

Aren't you forgetting that the first Descent imagined Europa as a rocky orangeish place with a not-inconsiderable amount of lava?

 

Shush you! Hand wavy lore things! tongue.png


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#5
Splotchie

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My point, if I have one, is that we love it anyway.


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An unusual choice for ship's cat....
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#6
Milkman

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wait.. a little late to this thread...  our system is a binary system?  Where is the other star?   Is it april fools already?  There is alot of spacecraft in our system already using math that assumes current helio centered based understandings.  Of course the very 'center' of our solar system might not be the middle of the sun because of shifts due to pull of other planets... but i would still consider our star to be the center of it.

 

blink.png


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#7
defcon_x

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Of course the very 'center' of our solar system might not be the middle of the sun because of shifts due to pull of other planets... but i would still consider our star to be the center of it.

 

Well, right. We may as well. It's the brightest object in our skies too! Why not?

 

But that's just about it. It is probably not the very center.

 

And I guess it doesn't matter.

 

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If you ask me my thoughts and if I'm joking, no. I am not concerned with spacecraft simulation models. Undoubtedly they have a lot of various models working together to make any given "shot" calculation. They may use Tycho Brahe's tables for stars, a non-rotating Earth for physics and a rotating Earth for time of launch. There are many overlapping models, all of them useful.

 

But a "unifying" model of just exactly where in space any given body is -- not just relative to Earth which is our main concern -- but relative to each other is an enormous topic (figuratively, literally, etc. LOL). You can read more about it on various sites (but I wouldn't use Kerbals) but it gets religious really quickly with each side of any debate throwing "unbelievableness" at the other side and mostly just refusing to even debate.

 

If you are curious about catching up on some very interesting latest talks though, I highly suggest reading about:

 

https://en.wikipedia...#Discontinuance

https://en.wikipedia.../Ephemeris_time

https://en.wikipedia...ar#Astrophysics

 

One glaring problem with the Wikipedia entry on "Binary star (subheading Astrophysics)" is that it shows only examples of "Newtonian mass" concepts. hahaha! This is so funny to me now that I have read more about the subject. Fat object = greater gravity in that view.

 

It does not show the cases where it's suspected the Star-sized object is actually going around the Earth-sized object, and the entire "thing" is precessing over thousands of years due to some kind of "magnetic tidal locking"  that we see plenty of examples of right here in our system. There have been some recent cases where a huge planet is orbiting a tiny star and the knee jerk response is, of course, "that tiny star must be super dense" or "that planet is inflated like a balloon".

 

It doesn't matter. I will side with splotchie and just say it doesn't matter. Descent doesn't need to delve into astrophysics too hard. I mean, how are the ships moving themselves in any given direction? Doesn't matter. And even if it did and some explanatory misstep was disproven the next year "who cares?" I guess. Star Trek does it all the time! It's still a beloved series.


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#8
Milkman

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All fun reading, and always up for new ideas,  But i still don't see a 2nd star in the sky to call our system binary.  Not just visually with my eye, but with all the various satellites, and spacecraft up there.  If there was another star, dark or otherwise we would know about it. 

 

I do agree there is a lot "we" don't know.  how 'gravity' all works, and orbits, wobbles, and various other interstellar movements, are all very much over my understanding of the universe. 

 

Also your right, it doesn't matter to descent.  Its just a game, and if it suddenly does... we can star trek techno babble our way out of it!


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