Welcome to Rhea! A new world of discovery.
Mission: Colonial Venture 2 (CV2-2131-US/EU/RU)
Vessel: IJCC-CDC-3 Galileo
Crew Population: 241 Total / 109 M / 132 F
Chief Officer: Captain Nikola Drake
Nominal Designation: Rhea
Distance from Earth: 12.4ly (1.17313057828*10^14km)
Departure Date: April 2, 2131
Estimated Arrival: June, 2193
Subjective Duration: Approximately 60 years
Post-stasis Briefing: Hello. Welcome back to the waking world. The International Joint Colonial Commission wishes to thank you once more for your service, and the decision to accompany the Galileo and the rest of its crew on this mission. This is the first of your briefings following the extended stasis of your journey. Amazing how quickly sixty years can pass isn’t it? What follows is a basic overview of our data on your soon to be new home. Once you’ve completed your review of this basic data please take some time to reacquaint yourself with your fellow crew members, and in a short time you will be receiving an in-depth report of the data relevant to your areas of expertise. Once again, the IJCC thanks you for your bold spirit, welcome to Rhea!
The above renderings are hemispheric representations of Rhea compiled from various satellite images to remove atmospheric interference. Below is the same data presented in the stereoscopic format the inference data is presented in, for consistency.
Climate data below has been correlated to the most similar of Earth’s ecologies, but inferences of alien life based on this should be minimized until further study is completed.
A comparison of the Climate and Altitude data reveals less climate variation with altitude than would be expected in an otherwise fairly Earth-like planet. It is currently presumed that the elevated levels of greenhouse gases, and lesser axial tilt than Earth, have contributed to more uniform climate throughout the planet’s ecosystems. As illustrated in the average Rainfall and Temperature charts, the oceans of Rhea are extremely warm and appear to contribute to large scale storm systems, causing widespread rainfall throughout the intermediate latitudes. This, in combination with the overall higher average temperatures, appears to have created a planet-wide ecological super-system of “trees” (exact biological nature of these large plant-like organisms had not been determined at time of departure) which are capable of subsisting at much higher altitudes than would be expected on Earth.
Official disposition of colonial deployment is pending review of live data and drone reconnaissance, but specialists who have reviewed existing data are encouraged to approach command with possible deployment locations. Due to the extreme temperatures and pervasive storms, current thinking is to locate the colony either in the northern latitudes where the climate is milder, or on the leeward side of one of the two dominant mountain ranges, where temperatures are lower and the mountains will provide a storm-break. Command has requested specialists reviewing data focus their efforts in these areas for the time being, to maximize efficiency.
This completes your initial post-stasis briefing. Estimated arrival at Rhea is approximately 2 months, 8 days, 14 hours, subjective. Live data feeds will resume when contact with the IJCC-AFS-3 Magellan is established, estimated time: 4 hours, subjective. Your medical review is scheduled for 16:30. Please be sure you are punctual. Until then, enjoy your scheduled leisure time, and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!
Initially I was planning on this post just being a basic rundown about world building, what I like about it and some of the tools I use. But in the end I decided a basic mission brief would be more fun to read, and to write, as well as better at illustrating some aspects of the process.
Rhea is going to be the setting of a sci-fi story I’ve been considering for some time, about some of the difficulties that occur on a colonial mission to a habitable exo-planet. It’s long been a fascination of mine, and I look forward to sharing it with you all.
As science would inevitably prove me wrong about it’s nature, Rhea is not based on any actual exo-planet, but is completely fictional. Now I could probably just wing it, but I felt it would be best to have something a little more concrete to base things on. So I turned to one of my favorite programs ever: Fractal Terrains Pro. FT Pro has been upgraded to FT3 since I bought it, but I don’t know much about the new features. What I do know is that FT procedurally generates 3D world maps based on certain fractal types and some user defined variables (Highest and lowest altitudes, temperature, rainfall, etc). It the creates the landscapes, fills in the oceans, and determines climates. It’s not perfectly accurate, but it is pretty impressive. In addition, I downloaded the Terraformer add-in for FT, which really lets you customize the appearance and atmospheric effects for the planet.
I haven’t finished creating the solar system for Rhea yet, but I am in the process now, using another awesome tool I just discovered: Astrosynthesis. Technically designed for space based sci-fi RPGs (as is Fractal Terrains in some ways), it has a lot of features I won’t be using for this project: space opera tropes mostly, like political sectors, hyperspace routes, mega space stations, and so on. The story of Rhea is meant to be on the harder side of sci-fi, and set in the not so distant future, rather than the distant days of galactic empire. But what it does have that I am thrilled with is a solar system generation process that will let me import data from Fractal Terrains, and will let me view the system in 3D, and even fast forward and reverse orbits. It’s what I used to make the video file for the Rhean day at the top, which I then converted to a .gif file.
Lastly I need to give some credit to WolframAlpha (who seems to have calculators for everything) for making a time dilation calculator, which allowed me to calculate the subjective time of the journey of 12.4ly going 1/5 the speed of light. Something I would never have achieved on my own (despite my love of sci-fi I just can’t hack it at physics). But at those speeds it does make a difference: 2 years of perceived time in fact.
Anyway, this is a bunch of dorky back-end stuff that only the hardcore nerds care about, but it will help me to deliver as realistic as possible a tale of the colonization of a distant planet, as I believe it may one day happen. The story itself is still a ways off, but I will try to post periodic bits to keep things interesting. Thanks for reading!