The Chronicles of Local Space

A fictional exploration of nearby star systems


Biosphere Engineer
A biosphere engineer is a person who designs and maintains biospheres for terraformed worlds. The biosphere engineer understands and works closely with the various cycles of life, and is mainly concerned with the creation and maintenance of a balanced ecosystem using a subset of introduced organisms. The biosphere engineer is familiar with thousands of organisms and their role in the ecosystem, from decay bacteria to apex predators, and all manner of organisms in between.
A biosphere engineer may also be an ecosystem specialist. These specialists possess specialist knowledge of a particular part of the ecosystem. For example, the ecosystem specialist may have detailed knowledge of the bacteria and invertebrates required to recycle the nutrients in plant material, or the mix of phytoplankton and zooplankton required to make a functional base for the food chain in a marine ecosystem.
The biosphere engineer requires five years of university education before becoming qualified to work in the field. Most employment opportunities in the field involve maintenance of the ecological balance of terraformed worlds, and correcting ecological imbalances if they occur. Only the most experienced biosphere engineers receive the opportunity to join a team to design and implement a new biosphere for a new world.
Colonies are human settlements on worlds with a breathable atmosphere. Most colonies are terraformed worlds, so the habitability of the colony may vary. People who live on colony worlds can walk on the surface with neither breathing aids nor protection against cosmic rays.
A small artificial wormhole that has been stabilised for use as a communications and data portal.
Corporate Death Penalty
The Corporate Death Penalty is the corporate equivalent of the death penalty for a natural person. The corporate death penalty is a natural extension of the legal fiction of treating a corporation like a natural person. It is a rare punishment, because the behaviour of corporations is usually moderated by legal action brought by governments or other corporations. The most prominent corporation whose dissolution was brought about through the Corporate Death Penalty was the Hygeia Mining Corporation, after its illegal terraforming of a lifebearing world and its consequent crimes against lifeforms.
Crawlers are very large, robust, slow-moving surface vessels that move on caterpillar treads. They are the surface equivalent of habitat ships. They are mostly used for mining on many worlds without breathable atmospheres. They can withstand external pressures from the vacuum of space up to a pressure of about ten Earth atmospheres. They have a thick layer of lightweight shielding against space radiation and also possess a radiation shelter as protection against solar flares. Crawlers can remain on duty for up to six months before returning to base to replenish supplies. Some models of crawler can be disassembled to facilitate transport from world to world.
Crimes Against Lifeforms
Crimes against lifeforms is a term in interplanetary law that refer to acts of wilful destruction against lifeforms, whether those lifeforms are a particular species of lifeform or against a biosphere as a whole. These crimes usually involve genocide against a species or against a biosphere and are broadly defined as crimes on a scale so large that humanity as a whole is diminished by their perpetration. These crimes are analogous to crimes against humanity, except the victims of the crimes are one or more species of nonsentient life rather than human beings. These crimes were first recognised as crimes as a result of the environmental movements of the 21st and 22nd centuries.
A reformed spelling of colonel.
Dandelion Project
The Dandelion Project was an ambitious voyage of exploration that sent wormhole probes to most stars within 10 parsecs (32 light years) of Sol. The project was funded by the space mining corporations which received exclusive mining and colonisation rights for every probe they funded. The first probes were sent to Proxima Centauri in 2387 and the last probe was sent in 2504. A total of 1,034 probes were sent of which 167 were successful. Some probes took as long as 550 years to reach their goal.
Dexter is a cardinal direction used on planets that are tidally locked to their sun, where the more usual cardinal directions are largely meaningless. It is the direction that is 90 degrees to the right of the local sun. Adjectives: dextern, dexternmost. Adverbs: dexterly.
See also lux, sinister and umber.
Enriched Samarium
Enriched samarium is an important commodity that is used in stargate construction and maintenance. Samarium is used in the electronics of the stabilization circuits within the stargate, as well as samarium-cobalt magnets. The electronics require high-purity samarium. Unfortunately, natural samarium is made up of about 40% by mass of three long-lived radioactive isotopes that impair the performace of samarium in the high-precision stargate electronics, particularly Samarium-147 which has a half life of about 1011 years and is responsible for more than 99.9% of the radioactivity of natural Samarium.
To improve the performance of samarium in stargate electronics, the samarium is enriched by separating out the radioactive isotopes. Enriched samarium consists of more than 95% Samarium-152 and Samarium-154, when compared with natural Samarium which is about 50% by mass of these isotopes. Some radioactive isotopes remain in the enriched samarium, but with the removal of Samarium-147 most of the radioactivity is removed as well.
Depleted samarium is a by-product of samarium enrichment. It is also used in stargate manufacture where it is an important ingredient for the manufacture of samarium-cobalt magnets.
A scientist who studies nonterrestrial lifeforms.
The science of extraterrestrial lifeforms.
Guilder and Florin
The Guilder and Florin are metric monetary units in use on the world of Serena. One Guilder equals one thousand Florins. On Serena, various forms of cash are the most common medium of exchange because of the relatively low level of technology in many locations.
Habitat Ship
Habitat ships are large spaceships that are equipped to stay in space for long periods of time. They have crew quarters that are well shielded from space radiation, the ability to recycle air, water and nutrients and can produce their own food. Habitat ships often stay in space for three years or more before returning to port. Most habitat ships are nuclear powered to meet the huge energy requirements that are required to keep ships in space for such long periods of time. They are mostly used for asteroid mining and other situations where the creation of a settlement is impractical.
Junkaloy (also known as junk alloy and junk iron) is a low-grade iron alloy of varying composition that is a by-product of the scrap metal industry. Junkaloy does not contain sufficient quantities of the more valuable metals to make it worthwhile refining it to recover these metals. Junkaloy is often brittle and tends to be prone to corrosion. It is most commonly used as ballast, especially in spacecraft.
A reformed spelling of lieutenant, especially on colonies descended from speakers of British English. See also lutenant.
A reformed spelling of lieutenant, especially on colonies descended from speakers of American English. See also leftenant.
Lux is a cardinal direction used on planets that are tidally locked to their sun, where the more usual cardinal directions are largely meaningless. It is the direction that is towards the local sun. Adjectives: luxern, luxernmost. Adverbs: luxerly.
See also dexter, sinister and umber.
A rapid transit technology that uses magnetic repulsion to reduce friction.
Metric Currency
Metric currency is a unit of currency where an arbitrary number of subdivisions of the base unit currency are employed instead of just two. In keeping with the principles of the metric system, one unit is almost always a multiple of 1,000 of some other unit. Thus one monetary unit may be 1,000 times a second unit and 1,000,000 times a third unit and so on. Typically, two or three different units will be in use simultaneously. The various units usually have distinct names like dollar, florin, and the like. Jurisdictions that still use banknotes and coins may print the denomination of those banknotes and coins in two or three different units. This is a common method of introducing new units and retiring moribund units.
The benefits of metric currency are best seen in jurisdictions with fiat currency which tends to suffer from the effects of inflation. With non-metric fiat currency the government must take some periodic action to revalue the currency. With metric currency the new units are introduced automatically, thus removing the need to revalue the currency. Old units that are devalued to the point of serving no useful purpose are phased out when the need arises.
Outposts are uninhabited systems with automated stargates. Outposts are generally created for providing space probes access to a system for research purposes, or for keeping a system linked to the stargate network so the network can be expanded in the future. They differ from waypoints in that waypoints have fully-staffed stargates with the ability to take spaceships and outposts do not.
Planetary Settlement
Planetary settlements are human settlements on planets without a breathable atmosphere, or where the atmosphere is quarantined. These settlements may be underground, underwater, or on the surface under protective domes. These settlements are usually underground on worlds where the atmosphere is too thin to stop cosmic rays, but may be on the surface of worlds endowed with a protective atmosphere.
Research Settlement
Research settlements are human outposts where scientists live and work. They can be planetary settlements or space settlements. Access to these settlements is usually restricted, especially settlements where lifeforms are studied.
A reformed spelling of sergeant.
Sinister is a cardinal direction used on planets that are tidally locked to their sun, where the more usual cardinal directions are largely meaningless. It is the direction that is 90 degrees to the left of the local sun. Adjectives: sinistern, sinisternmost. Adverbs: sinisterly.
See also dexter, lux and umber.
Space Settlement
Space settlements are essentially closed cities, with everything artificially cycled, with artificial ventilation, artificial day and night, and so on.
Isaac Asimov, Prelude to Foundation, 1988
Space settlements are artificial worlds like space stations in which people live. Space settlements can be temporary or permanent. Most space settlements have artificial gravity generated by rotating the settlement at the desired speed. Larger settlements need to rotate faster in order to produce the same force and this imposes a limit on the maximum size of a settlement (for more information, see: ).
Standard Day
The Standard Day is a unit of measurement equal to 86,400 Standard Seconds. It is based on the length of one mean solar day on Earth. It is not precisely equal to one Earth day, which is slowly lengthening due to tidal friction. By 3000 SCE, the length of one Earth Day has lengthened to 1.00000019 Standard Days (86400.017 Standard Seconds).
An artificial wormhole that has been stabilised to enable faster-than-light travel between two fixed points, typically two star systems. They are stabilized using advanced technology.
Umber is a cardinal direction used on planets that are tidally locked to their sun, where the more usual cardinal directions are largely meaningless. It is the direction that is directly away from the local sun. Adjectives: umbern, umbernmost. Adverbs: umberly.
See also dexter, lux and sinister.
Vat Meat
Vat meat is an artificial food that is rich in protein. It is grown from genetically-engineered animal muscle cells and animal stem cells in vats filled with a nutrient broth. High-quality vat meat resembles boneless meat in taste and texture. Lower quality vat meat has the consistency of sausage meat, and is generally a vat meat by-product. Its most common varieties are chicken, beef and white fish. Over fifty varieties exist, including a number of meat blends. It is most commonly found in space settlements where real animal protein is difficult to obtain.
Because it contains animal cells, it is considered to be an animal product and is not eaten by some vegetarians. It is not kosher because it is not specifically permitted and it is produced from DNA obtained from different species of animals including pigs. It is not halal for similar reasons. Hindus cannot eat it because all vat meat contains beef DNA. Orthodox Jews, Muslims and Hindus who engage in interplanetary travel must take great care to avoid eating vat meat by accident. Conversely, most Buddhists have fewer qualms about eating vat meat as compared to real meat because no animals were killed to produce the vat meat.
Waypoints are systems with fully-staffed stargates but no other human presence in the system. Waypoints are sometimes created in the stargate network to reduce the cost of running stargates, because two short stargate links cost less to operate than one long link. Sometimes waypoints are found in systems that once had a human presence and the system has since been abandoned.
Waypoints differ from outposts in that the stargates in a waypoint system are fully-staffed with the capacity to take spaceships, whereas the stargates in an outpost system are unstaffed and have a low-capacity wormhole link that is only able to accept communications links and small space probes.
In vernacular usage, “outpost” is often used instead of “waypoint”. This arises because humans generally cannot travel to outposts due to the restricted capacity of the wormhole, so the need for the distinction isn’t obvious to the public. In the strict legal definition, this usage is incorrect.
Wormholes are tunnels in spacetime that connect distant regions of the universe. Wormholes are also known as Einstein-Rosen bridges.
Wormhole Probe
An artificial wormhole connected to a space probe. The space probe travels between the stars at sublight speeds, taking the wormhole with it. Wormhole probes may take several centuries to reach their destination. To maximise the chance of successful arrival, these probes are specifically engineered for great reliability.

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