Starcharts are, generally speaking, complex navigation aids that are useful for many, many years. They are made with careful exploration, long-term observations, and in the case of distant unreg groups, sometimes even loss of life. Such charts are extremely precious to those that produce them.
However, modern technology provides new options for those who are able to understand starchart notation. Using high-quality space-based observatories and complex cartography mainframes, much of the observation process can be automated, and the calculations then finalized into a modestly-sized temporary starchart. These typically do not hold a candle to the real thing, but are useful enough for the average expedition.
A few things are required in order to make a starchart:
- Someone who understands starchart notation
- Three observatory space station modules
- At least two hyperwave-capable temporary space stations
- One cartography mainframe space station module
You are likely used to the idea that, to find an exact unknown point, you need two known points of observation. These three points form a triangle and all necessary information can then be derived, a process known as triangulation. However, this assumes a two-dimensional plane. In three dimensional space, three points of observation are required.
This is why you need three different observatory modules on three different temporary space stations. The more they are spread apart, the larger the chart they can produce. However, one of the observatories can be placed on the same station as the cartography mainframe, so that you still need only three stations in total.
This, then, is the simplest way to produce a starchart:
- Deploy a temporary space station with an observatory module and a cartography mainframe.
- Travel some distance away. The greater the distance, the larger the final chart.
- Deploy another temporary space station, this time with an observatory module and the ability to hypercast.
- Transmit a carrier signal to the station containing the mainframe. Signal strength matters, so consider this when deciding at what distance the stations should be.
- Travel some distance away again. Equidistance from both previous stations is ideal.
- Deploy another hypercasting temporary space station with an observatory module.
- Transmit a carrier signal from this third station to the station containing the mainframe.
- Return to the mainframe station and ensure it is getting a strong signal from both remote observatories.
- Use the CHART command to begin a calculation.
- Wait. The longer the stations are allowed to observe, the longer the final chart will last. The stations do not need to be manned during this time.
- Return to the mainframe station and end the ongoing calculation.
- Have a starchart user finalize the calculation. The more proficient the user, the better the final result.
A FEW TIPS
- Ideally, for a starchart that potentially lasts weeks, the stations should be able to observe for several days.
- Balance the distance of your stations against your ability to aim a strong carrier signal at the mainframe.
- An ideal distance is not necessarily a huge one. A good observatory greatly multiplies the effective observed radius.
- Tailor to your needs. Just need a chart to find home again? That's cheap and easy. Want to chart a large area for months? That requires the very best equipment and an expert starchart user.
- The starchart user's proficiency is the largest limiting factor. Good equipment helps an expert reach their full potential, but it is wasted on an amateur.