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Re: Space Geography

From: Tom B <kaladorn@g...>
Date: Sat, 24 Sep 2011 16:46:59 -0400
Subject: Re: Space Geography

textfilter: chose text/plain from a multipart/alternative

Agree with some of the comments, have to question others.

In theory, we could map Earth down to sub-meter resolution and everyone
could have GPS in their cars. But it turns out this doesn't happen.

We could probably image much of near space to see asteroids, but this
not happen.


The issues in the real world tend to include:

a) Balkanization of the world and this does not go away in the GZGverse
is probably very pronounced before the aliens show up - the concerns on
Earth or Inner colonies would be more 'watching the other guy' than
'watching space'.  (they aren't fully seperate) A Terra system detection
grid could be crappy just because it is administered by a half-assed UN
the downstream delivery of data to national governments might take time
(sometimes intentionally).

b) Technical failures. In theory, we had the capacity to nuke the world
of times over and do sid the Russians in the Cold War. But failure rates
were never made very public and the technology never had a large scale
And both sides hid signs of failures in systems or poor engineering etc.
I've heard similar issues about Stealth technologies, for instance. I
see why detector technology or a large scale system grid would be

c) How big a place it is? I presuppose:
i) Earth: Grid, but many nations and probably issues of scale with other
traffic around and politics and maybe even just limited expenditure on a
global grid in Earth while nations are actively warring in the
(maybe resources go to those wars since people know Earth is safe by
and no nation would want to cause issue here)
ii) Inner Colonies: Big ones likely are like smaller Earths
iii) Outer Colonies: Bigger ones probably have a scaled down system with
more limited capability but they may actually be less balkanized so they
compensate a bit by looking harder - some places may not even have a
iv) Outposts - No grid to speak of, maybe a cheap sat or two, but
very potent except if it is a military base

d) System complexity. Complex computer systems can sometimes be their
worst enemy. And half the battle in modern ESM is not hiding that
is there, but making it confusing to identify exactly what it is
(encouraging mis-identification). Complex systems won't help that and
form of spoofing might let you detect presence but not ID. That will
a lot in places like Earth or Inner Colonies given trade traffic volumes
be high. Plus attacking a potential ally ship or neutral might not be a
idea and calling out the fleet every time you misidentify something
result in an ROE that limits reponse until smaller units have actual
eyes on
close enough to verify identification. That gives an attacker one route.

So you need to distinguish:

a) Does your FTL (I'm presupposing Hyper if you recall) have a
signature? I
stipulated it would have some sort of gravitic signature, but a small
and that it would not have much of an other emission signature.

b) Presence detection and positive identification are two separate
One is easier than the other but perhaps not as useful as you'd think.

c) Stealth: I'm thinking that a ship ought to be able (with a minimal
to be able sink heat locally for some time. This is why I proposed a
period (12, 24, 48 hours) where a ship can have thermal stealth. For
optical, I'm assuming you don't appear 'black' all the time, just
what is on the other side'. Sneaking in 'six o'clock high' from the sun
might be a challenge just because of the effort of duplicating that
object's emissions. You'd be a black spot (slightly less bright).
I'm assuming a 100D rule here, so coming in from the sun is probably a

d) Why do people assume a detection grid will be ubiquitous or of
availability? They may be very expensive. They may be vulnerable to
nations or accidents ("Admiral Burton-West, that ESU freighter just
our L5 satellite and it's going to be out of commission for 3 weeks
while we
get a replacement ready and manouvered into place."). Less of this in
crowded or balkanized systems, but crappier detection arrays.

e) If detectors occupy known places in space, it may be reasonably cost
effective to attack them with ballistic projectiles perhaps with final
manouvering. Rocks with thrusters, missiles with long ballistic parts,
Now, you say 'that will tell me they are coming!' but if a power engages
this versus another over a long period as a generalized harassment and
system degradation tactic, the first power's systems of detection may be
attrited in quite a few systems and it may be unclear in any one that
is a preamble to any particular attack. This is sort of the 'hit him in
places' strategy. Defender will tire himself out trying to be fully
or will cease to pay attention to attacks and live with degraded

f) If FTL is detectable, people may make jump decoys and deploy them in
various places in a system or in various systems for both tactical and
strategic misdirection. To some extent or another, knowing something is
happening in 1000 places is only of marginally more utility than not
it is going on at all - you can't respond to them all. So FTL detectors
be a great way to mislead yourself as to what is actually going on.

Most military technologies boil down to a paper-scissors-rock game. And
complex systems have the sorts of issues complex systems have. And
balkanization and heavy traffic volumes in inner areas may well
for better grids.

Think of our DEW line or AWACS. They should spot everything in the air,
they didn't and don't always for a variety of reasons. The system's
theoretical performance an actual get degraded for a variety of reasons
(logistical, technical, or otherwise).

Essentially, I'm trying to construct a not-unreasonable set of
for a GZGverse where some misdirection or stealth is possible under some
circumstances (it is not entirely rules out by instapot) and that it is
the best/only tactic (works every time is just as bad). I am trying to
how this can be done with the minimal effrontry to known sensor

If this can be done with reasonable assumptions about the influences of
complex systems, the laws of physics, reasonable defensive technologies,
human organization and balkanization, economics, etc, then I'd be happy

The reason for poking at this is I'm not happy just handwaving it all
I don't find that satisfying. I would like to have something that feels
bit feasible or likely. That's the nature of my investigation.


Only solitary men know the full joys of friendship. Others have their
family; but to a solitary and an exile, his friends are everything.* 
Willa Cather (1873 - 1947)Solitudinem fecerunt, pacem appelunt
-- Publius Cornelius Tacitus (from the book Agricola, attributed to a
from Calgacus)

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