The Monoceros Mission [June 3303]

Chronicle #19

The Children explore a remote region of space in search for an old conundrum

In June 3303 the Children of Raxxla (CoR) went on an extensive expedition in order to prove or disprove a number of astronomical and xenobiological theories: The Monoceros Mission. What follows is a mission briefing issued to the CoR in preparation:

Assignment Name: Monoceros Mission
Primary Objective Summary : A CoR survey team have been commissioned by the Galactic Mapping Project (GMP) to survey part of the Perseus Transit where a structure called the Monoceros Ring is speculated to intersect the galactic arm.

Objective background: What is the Monoceros Ring?

The Monoceros Ring is based on a theory that postulates the existence of a leftover stellar stream of stars from other dwarf galaxies that pierced the Milky Way in the distant past. In this case it was a then hypothesised Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy (CMa Dwarf). Therefore it is not a lesser spiral arm like the Orion Spur but the result of galactic collision that was still observable back in the day. But the existence of the CMa Dwarf was far from certain.

Accordingly, in the early 21st century a study using 2MASS data cast doubts on the nature of the Monoceros Ring, arguing that the data suggested the ring was actually part of the warped galactic disk of the Milky Way. Scientists found out that the disk was not uniformly flat but that it had ripples and flares, small bulges where the rate of star formation had been unproportionally high. This was a reversal of the original theory. However, observations using the most advanced telescopes published in 2007 suggested that a warped disk could not have created the observed structure, implying again that its formation must either have been the result of a stellar stream oscillation in a very specific region of space or indeed be of extra-galactic origin. Whatever the case, it was a conundrum that was difficult to solve because of the remoteness of the Monoceros constellation and because other stellar phenomena were deemed more important.

With the destruction of Earth’s biosphere during World War III, the subsequent terraforming of Mars and the invention of faster-than-light travel in the 23rd century, the Monoceros Ring theory remained mostly untouched for more than a thousand years. Priorities had shifted towards the survey and immediate colonisation of the vicinity of Sol.

In 3303 several members of the scientific community restated their position affirming the Monoceros structure is nothing more than an overdensity produced by the flared and warped thick disk of the Milky Way. Observations weren’t limited to telescopes and satellites any longer, however. With commercially available frame-shift drives some thought it finally was time to go there and have a look. So when the Galactic Mapping Project (GMP) issued a call for exploration in June 3003, the CoR approached them with amission proposal.

If the Monoceros Ring was indeed the result of a galactic collision it was postulated that there should be scattered pockets of mainly old, low-metallicity stars in areas that otherwise have a low stellar density. These could indeed be the remnants of former cores or globular clusters. Finding these in the Perseus Fade or Transit sectors would lend credence to the ‘extra-galactic’ theory of the Ring structure.

The proposed itinerary contained a number of other waypoints that were related to a number of theories and puzzles that were more in line with the then pressing hunt for Thargoid barnacles (and how they were distributed throughout known space) and some emerging ‘appendix’ theories of Project Dynasty, trying to explain the remote permit-locked sectors throughout the galaxy. Therefore, the Monoceros Mission held a number of secondary mission objectives as well. These objectives were secret and CoR-only at first but they were eventually published after all data had been analysed.

These secondary objectives were:

  1. Reconnaissance of the NGC 2286 permit-locked sector
    The idea was that the sector could have been the ‘chosen’ area for an exodus of mankind as planned in Project Dynasty. Whereas the project was said to have had only three targeted areas, none of them had been sealed off or otherwise protected against future intrusions. One of the Childrens’ theories was that NGC 2286 could have been the ‘fourth corner’ in a quadrangle, rather than the poular ‘abandoned settlement triangle’. This region could have been named the most promising one and the Pilots Federation consquently could have locked that sector down — much like they did with Collinder 70.
    The objective of the recon team by CoR teams was to find evidence of man-made activities of any scope along the NGC 2286 border in order to assess the situation.
  2. Searching for barnacles near the Crab Pulsar
    One of the earlier theories about barnacles was that they were powered by vast amounts of stellar radiation. It was one of the theories to specifically link them to the Pleiades region where a greater number of massive stars were present in a relatively small area of space. A CoR science team came up with the ‘Blue Theory’ that explicitly stated barnacles would be fueled by synchrotron radiation, one of the most energetic forms of radiation and one that only massive fast-spinning stellar bodies could emit.
    The Crab Pulsar (PSR J0534+2200) revolves some 30 times per second and continually generates ultra-high-energy cosmic rays in excess of 100 teraelectronvolts (TeV). Therefore, its immediate surroundings should be ideal for barnacle formations.
    The objective of the recon team was to map planetary surfaces in that area and search these for barnacles.

On June 10th 3303 The Children released the Monoceros Mission itinerary

Itinerary:

Stage 1 - Departure and journey to the Pleiades region

Waypoint 1 and Departure Point - Hind Mine
GalMap Ref: T Tauri

Waypoint 2 - Pleiades Sector

CoR Expeditionary Flotilla will visit the following barnacle sites in order to witness any possible alien ship or barnacle interactions.

GalMap Ref: Pleiades Sector OI-T C3-7 A 6
-47.4533 -18.4075

GalMap Ref: Pleiades Sector OI-T C3-7 A 6
-42.7785 -21.7142

GalMap Ref: Pleiades Sector OI-T C3-7 B 3
-41.3795 67.1302

Stage Two - Beginning the journey to the Perseus Transit

Waypoint 3 - Orion Nebula Tourist Centre
GalMap Ref: PMD2009 48

Waypoint 4 - Hades Edge
GalMap Ref: HD 49368 (Planet 1)

Waypoint 5 - GalMap Ref: Hell Port
Seagull Sector DL-Y d3

Waypoint 6 -New Beginning (Rosette Nebula)
GalMap Ref: Rosette Sector CQ-Y d59

Stage Three - Monoceros Mission survey along the Perseus Transit

Waypoint 7 - NGC 2452 Nebula
GalMap Ref: GCRV 5190

Waypoint 8 - Skull & Crossbones Nebula
GalMap Ref: Haffner 18 LSS 27

Stage Four - Journey to the NGC 2286 restricted zone

Waypoint 9 - NGC 2286 Sector
GalMap Ref: NGC 2286 Sector GS-S d4-30

Stage Five - Barnacle Hunt at the Crab Pulsar

Waypoint 10 - Station X
GalMap Ref: Crab Sector DL-Y d9

In September 3304 the CoR published their original mission briefing for transparency. It is stored as an external document.

The mission debriefing took place on August 5th 3303. It is given here for the sake of completion and transparency:

Mission Debriefing
Mission Schedule : 10th June, 3303 until 25th June, 3303
Mission Parameters : voluntary; exploration; (exclude) “alien”, “conspiracy”
Participants : 32 CoR staff pilots

What have we accomplished?

We had fun. Period. After some tumultuous months more than 30 CoR-only pilots got their shits together and happily went into the unknown to find out some obscure things; and it worked. The mission was meant to be a thing somewhere between burnt-out pilots relaxing a bit from comms and newsgroup heat and acting as a dedicated crew of space veterans on the hunt for answers on some astronomical conundrums.
And we accomplished that as well. The overall atmosphere was relaxed and friendly. It was augmented by frequent voice comms meetups. The cooperative nature of the mission was palpable at all times. On several occasions, pilots found the joy and time to test their SRV and SLF piloting abilities to the limits, on other occasions discoveries and investigation opportunities were shared within the group and it may be safe to say that everyone had a blast.

Now for the astronomical conundrums: The mission had three of them, encased in a number of ‘scenic’ waypoints on the one hand and some rather dull patches of space on the other.

1. The Monoceros Ring

The Monoceros Ring – along with the speculated-upon Canis Major Overdensity – is a theory of an extra-galactic stream of old stars piercing the spiral arms in the outer regions of the Perseus Transit and the Perseus Fade. Ancient 21st century astronomers detected a suspicious overdensity of M-class giant stars and also groups of stars whose movements seemed to contradict typical mass segregation in stellar densities. They concluded it might be the remnant of a dwarf galaxy that was being absorbed into the Milky Way, much like the trail of a comet.

2. The NGC 2286 Permit Zone

The goal was to survey the border systems of the Permit Zone and scout for operation activities, much like CoR did with the Col 70 sector. One theory was that the PZ might hold more abandoned settlements like those in the Rift or the Conflux. Another speculation was that it would hold clandestine industrial or military operations of unknown entities. As such, pilots were asked to look for signal sources, wreckage or other evidence of human (or alien?) actions in this sector, both in space and also planetside.

A few pilots seem to have undertaken this task but data is still being collected and put together into an activity model of the region.

3. The Crab Pulsar

The Crab Pulsar and its vicinity was searched by at least two teams of operatives. They were explicitly looking for ‘Barnacles’ or other alien structures like those encountered in the Pleiades, Aries and California Nebula areas.

Search patterns were laid out and target areas were thoroughly surveyed. However, no Barnacles were found. Moreover, analysis of the pulsar’s properties – and especially its synchrotron radiation and high energ output – is currently underway and will be compared with contemporary models of the ‘Blue Theory’ by Lyrae Cursorius.

Who made it back?

Well, that’s hard to tell at the moment. It appears that quite a few pilots broke off from the main group somewhere between the Orion Complex and the Rosette Nebula; and the mission team got significantly smaller prior to reaching the Skull & Crossbones Nebula. Who actually made it back to the Bubble at the mission’s official closure is therefore hard to tell.

But that is not important. An expedition’s start is always more flashy and formal than its ending. Even on Distant Worlds, people returned to the Bubble several months later. More likely, people find some things along the way they want to check out after the mission’s ending and that more often than not is the beginning of a new story to tell.

The Monoceros Mission’s ending coincided with the discovery of the Thargoid bases and new riddles surrounding the alien artifacts. If the mission served its purpose of reinvigorating our trusted folks for the things to come, one can only say:

Mission Accomplished!