Stellar Cartography

Tau_Cetacean
Tau_Cetacean
edited December 2015 in General Discussion
two discoveries this week:

interactive Star Wars galactic map:
http://www.swgalaxymap.com/
(admire this as a GM, and a survivor of ArcMap from grad school... while I'm not fully on-board with some of the Expanded Universe, and Disney just Deep-Sixed it... and I do sort of miss the mid-1990s when you had West End Games saying "there are thousands of sectors, we won't tell you about all of them, go make your own"... after the expanded universe had it's say, it seems there are merely dozens of sectors... it is undeniably cool to have this and wookipedia at your fingertips if you are doing a bounce-around-the-galaxy style campaign)

freeware 3D galactic atlas of a galaxy not so long ago, and not so far away:
http://www.thinkastronomy.com/M13/index.html
(I was struggling to program an excel spreadsheet that would convert Right Ascension and Declination of stars/nebulae/clusters/whatever and put it into galactic coordinates and then into X,Y,Z... but this puppy has already done that for you... still playing with it, but definitely seeing its potential for my main campaign: a hard sci-fi setting using real galactic geography)
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  • Kallak
    Kallak
    Posts: 1,041
    The Star Wars Galaxy Map is a cool reference. My next campaign is a Saga Edition Star Wars game, so I'll definitely be able to use this. Thanks for the find.

    All the best,
    - Kallak

    Inner Council Member
    CotM Selection Committee
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    Obsidian Portal Community and Content Manager
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  • Basileus
    Basileus
    Posts: 589 edited December 2015
    I'll toot my own horn here a bit (but mostly Winchell Chung of Atomic Rho).

    I used his process to create a node map for my Sci-Fi setting, seen here: https://outremer.obsidianportal.com/maps/49601

    The short version is that it uses data from the real world HabCat database (which compiles actual stellar data such as coordinates for stars most likely to host habitable planets - e.g. suitable for terraforming or assisted habitation). Then I personally filtered down to only those stars with recognizable names (i.e. Delta Pavonis, Beta Hydro, Iota Pegasi, etc...) and exclude those that only had catalogue designations. From there, you can generate real-world distances, and process those into either jump routes or travel times (depending on how you want interstellar travel to work in your setting). Finally, I used mind-mapping software to convert those real world distances and jump routes into a usable 2.5d node map (because accurate 3d interstellar maps look terrible and confusing), and then dressed it all up with some pretty graphics.

    The end result, I feel, was a great balance between accurate data/numbers, and aesthetics.


    His description of the process is here: http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/starmaps/2.5dmaps.php

    And some discussion and examples of other maps using real-world data here: http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/spacemaps.php

    EDIT: At one point I had a larger map with dozens of systems (still derived from the real-world HabCat dataset) and had run it through a similar process to determine capitals/major/minor based on "colonization date" (derived from distance from Sol and an arbitrary mission launch timeline) and distances to connecting systems to simulate trade routes and I think metallicity and luminosity to determine industrial and agricultural output, but I think I've lost that somewhere along the line. It was a masterpiece... * sniff * * sob *
    Post edited by Basileus on
  • Tau_Cetacean
    Tau_Cetacean
    Posts: 285
    very cool.... I have HabCat as an excel spreadsheet somewhere (from a classmate in grad school who somehow had excel plot it in XYZ, a trick I need to reverse engineer)

    right now I'm mostly focused on near-future history and in-solar-system stuff (esp. with "The Expanse" putting me in the mood to work on the asteroid belt), but eventually want to scope it out to interstellar (no FTL/hyperspace/wormholes) and tap into my former life as a planetary geologist to do realistic exoplanets...
  • Lxcharon
    Lxcharon
    Posts: 189
    I need to bookmark this conversation for later use, definitely interesting stuff!
  • Tau_Cetacean
    Tau_Cetacean
    Posts: 285
    @ Kallak - also found this today, seems useful for a Star Wars RPG (esp. if the video embedding ever works again)

    http://www.starwars.com/games-apps/star-wars-crawl-creator
  • cgregory
    cgregory
    Posts: 772
    You might find this of interest for science fiction worlds and systems when you need to generate on the go

    "Donjon website Science Fiction":http://donjon.bin.sh/scifi/swsg/

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  • Tau_Cetacean
    Tau_Cetacean
    Posts: 285
    yeah, familiar with that site (and the original West End Games sourcebook it's based on) - it's fine for space opera like "Star Wars" and if you tweak contradictory results or take them up the challenge of "be inspired! explain any contradictory results in Star Wars like terms!!!")

    whoever coded it slapped on randomized star type as well, which I would just ignore all together because it pays no attention to basic details like how white dwarfs are too cold to warm up a planet to where liquid water is possible, A-type stars don't last long enough to develop habitable planets, M-type stars have habitable zones too close to the star and stellar flares would strip the atmosphere away over geologic time, plus wild climate swings due to starspots, etc.

    it also has habitable gas giant moons, which, granted, is established in the movies with Yavin-4, and if you count the prequels and the trips with a submarine through Naboo's core you can just kiss all of planetary geophysics goodbye.. but... realistically, a moon of a gas giant would have formed with the gas giant beyond the "snow line" (e.g. incorporating about equal parts ice and rock) and migrated inwards with the gas giant... end result, if the gas giant moves into the habitable zone... ice crust and upper mantle melts... you get a moon with a) 100% ocean cover, b) ocean is >100km deep, c) sea floor is exotic high pressure form of ice, d) natural atmosphere would be oxygen, water vapor and some hydrogen that is being lost to space...

    you could explain Yavin-4 as a rocky planet that got captured by a inward migrating gas giant, but that would be a rarer scenario... most large moons of habzone gas giants would be the melted ice ball scenario
  • Maesenko
    Maesenko
    Posts: 325 edited December 2015
    @Tau: Apparently you aren't a reader of Darths and Droids. It's insane, but apparently a system like Naboo could be possible (although they obviously don't go into great detail, it being a webcomic and all).

    Link "here":http://www.darthsanddroids.net/episodes/0150.html
    Post edited by Maesenko on

    ~Mae

    CotM Selection Committee

  • Tau_Cetacean
    Tau_Cetacean
    Posts: 285
    @Mae - I did read D&D back in the day, but back in the day I was also in grad school for planetary geology, I still say Naboo's interior is bovine feces
  • Tau_Cetacean
    Tau_Cetacean
    Posts: 285
    this webcomic is more appropriate to my approach towards balls of gas, ice and rock whirling around natural fusion reactors in sci-fi RPGs:

    http://www.irregularwebcomic.net/94.html
  • Maesenko
    Maesenko
    Posts: 325
    In other words, the raw resources are just out there waiting to be taken, since there's _obviously_ no other reason for it to be there!

    ~Mae

    CotM Selection Committee

  • Tau_Cetacean
    Tau_Cetacean
    Posts: 285
    well, "resources" might be a little strong of a word... all of our mining techniques today are based on abundant water and oxygen, and living on a planet where plate tectonics (and liquid water) has concentrated ores, and transportation costs that don't involve leaving a gravity well... and even if you have wholly new mining technologies developed to tackle the asteroid belt... a) it's cheaper to mine anything off the seafloor than it is to mine it off-world, b) it's cheaper to recycle material from garbage dumps of wasteful bygone centuries (like ours) than it is to mine it off-world, c) it would be cheaper to tear up the Antarctic Treaty and mine stuff from underneath several kilometers of glacial ice than it would be to mine stuff off-world
  • cgregory
    cgregory
    Posts: 772
    It is believed it would cost $2.6 billion to mine near space asteroids according to the Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS) at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

    According to the KISS study, the cost for a future mission to identify and return a 500 ton asteroid to low earth orbit is ~$2.6 billion USD, ignoring the costs to develop the infrastructure necessary to process the materials in the asteroid ("Asteroid usage", 2012). However, Planetary Resources estimates that a single 30 meter long platinum-rich asteroid could contain $25 to $50 billion USD worth of platinum at today's prices (Klotz, 2012). Clearly, once the proper infrastructure is in place, there is potential for significant profit. Currently, research into the feasibility of human and robotic missions to asteroids is being conducted by both governmental organizations (JAXA, NASA) and private companies (Planetary Resources).

    http://www.space.com/15405-asteroid-mining-feasibility-study.html

    http://www.space.com/15395-asteroid-mining-planetary-resources.html

    Mining off the sea floor is believed to be $1-$2 billion.

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/environment/a11842/why-deep-sea-rare-earth-metals-will-stay-right-where-they-are-for-now/

    MIT timeline for ocean and asteriod mining

    http://web.mit.edu/12.000/www/m2016/finalwebsite/solutions/oceans.html

    http://web.mit.edu/12.000/www/m2016/finalwebsite/solutions/asteroids.html

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  • Tau_Cetacean
    Tau_Cetacean
    Posts: 285 edited January 2016
    "ignoring the costs to develop the infrastructure necessary to process the materials in the asteroid"

    that's the rub... all our mining techniques are based on mining terrestrial rocks which have had ores formed by processes usually related to liquid water (flowing through the ground and hydrothermal fluids, dissolving, transporting and depositing various ions) in specific plate tectonic settings... a carbonaceous chondrite asteroid simply isn't going to have the same convenient distribution of ions

    "a single 30 meter long platinum-rich asteroid could contain $25 to $50 billion USD worth of platinum at today’s prices"

    *at today's prices*, based on today's supply and today's demand, you haul an iron-nickel asteroid with some amount of platinum in it into low earth orbit and the price for iron, nickel and platinum is going to crash, even before you figure out how to cost-effectively melt, separate and segregate the platinum and nickel from the iron, in airless microgravity

    by the logic of the asteroid mining hype, a similar volume of soil on the Earth's surface today is worth $1.7 quadrillion:
    http://ronaldbrak.blogspot.com/2006/02/great-asteroid-mining-con.html
    Post edited by Tau_Cetacean on
  • Basileus
    Basileus
    Posts: 589
    Yeah, it's hard to justify, what with all the precious resources so readily available on Earth. All those pesky humans hoarding trace amounts of gold in their bodies... More than $65 million worth if the population could only be harvested... pulped... sifted...

    And the waste product from the process can easily be recycled into Soylent Green, so it's ecologically sound!

    ...eh, what's that? I meant to say "us" pesky humans, not "them"... I'm certainly not a colony of space arachnids piloting a human skin suit, why would you even think that?!
  • Tau_Cetacean
    Tau_Cetacean
    Posts: 285
    the disturbing thing is, I've gotten advertisements for Solyent put on my Fakebook feed
  • Lxcharon
    Lxcharon
    Posts: 189
    I have a friend who has started the soylent only diet. I'm actually a little worried about him.
  • Basileus
    Basileus
    Posts: 589 edited January 2016
    What's wrong with that? Soylent is great! It contains all the nutrients of the human bo... I mean needed by the human body! And it can be consumed in the form of delicious, delicious fluids!

    Sluuurrrp

    - skitter skitter -
    Post edited by Basileus on
  • Lxcharon
    Lxcharon
    Posts: 189
    "You tell everybody. Listen to me, Hatcher. You've gotta tell them! Soylent Green is people!"
  • Maesenko
    Maesenko
    Posts: 325
    While I appreciate a good movie quotation as much as the next man/woman/child/arachnosuit, shall we get back to the optic at hand? (That's not a typo, I've actually got an eyeball in my hand (not embedded).)

    Has anybody developed a working model of their fantasy game's solar system? Added additional planets, named the moon(s), etc.? I'd be curious to know how you went about it, and what tied it into your world, as it's something I have been trying to establish in my own setting for some time.

    ~Mae

    CotM Selection Committee

  • Tau_Cetacean
    Tau_Cetacean
    Posts: 285
    for *fantasy* setting... yes

    I started with the idea that medieval cosmology was literally true: the Earth (or the Earth-like main world in my setting) is at the center of the universe, which is only one star system

    the moon is in the closest orbit, other planets beyond that, then the sun, then the other planets, then a giant crystalline sphere to which the stars are attached

    I take the medieval notion that the equator is impassably hot to be true (e.g. the land is scorching hot, the seas are boiling), but can be circumvented by caravan routes that cut through the underdark

    I take the medieval notion that outer space is made of "aether" and say that ethereal plane exists in between the planets in my setting (and can be traversed... you just had to have the right magic, be able to handle an ethereal plane encounter table and deal with the distances involved)

    the inward-facing side of the crystalline sphere is the functional equivalent of the astral plane

    the "stars" are giant glowing half-domes on the astral plane (which is otherwise a vast featureless crystalline plain, shrouded in mist)

    haven't quite decided if the outer planes are inside the domes, in a TARDIS-like "bigger on the inside" scenario, or if they are just portals to the outer planes (which I suppose makes more sense for a multi-verse where my outer planes are shared by other universes)

    beyond the crystalline sphere is THE VOID... basically, insert Lovecraftian horror-type stuff here

    the planets I named using online elvish dictionaries, since I take the elves to be the biggest astrologers / astronomers in my campaign and their naming system would dominate, just as we now use Roman names for the planets and Arabic names for the brightest stars... the climates / geographies of the different worlds I inferred from their position in the solar system: if the main world has Earth-like conditions at the center of the universe, because it is at a uniform distance from the sun... than the planets in between the main world and the sun will be warmer... when the sun is closer to them... and colder... when the sun is farther away

    and then we get to the really messed up part of my universe, which is that I've tried to keep continuity with every D&D game I've ever run, since middle school... and well... being a novice DM in middle school and having a very weird friend in middle school... I once had a rampaging evil overlord (ret-con: he was an avatar of The Void), and dropped hints that he could be destroyed by the heat of the sun, and here's this magical artifact that controls the cosmos (ret-con: the Orb of Creation or the Astrorb, or I need to come up with a better name), and instead of bringing down a small chunk of the sun like I'd hinted, he brought down the entire sun on the planet (ret-con: any mortal who touches the Orb of Creation is overwhelmed by the immensity of the cosmos and has a Wisdom drain down to 1)

    this is the cataclysm known as Sunfall (which, yes, needs a better name)

    mitigating factors:

    1) the sun isn't as big as the earth (e.g. going off the sizes that medieval cosmology thought)

    2) as it came down to the earth, it lost some of its heat/mass

    3) the moon, or rather, the old moon, was in the way and took most of the blow

    4) ret-con: this was all prophesied, and certain powerful people had taken to building a Arkopolis at the bottom of the sea, with the great library, the great zoo, etc. to repopulate the planet after it was cleansed of the Avatar of the Void

    5) after the firestorm scorched the continents and boiled the seas, etc., divine intervention (using the recovered orb) created a new sun

    6) after a secondary cataclysm known as Moonfall (asteroid impact, basically, from a chunk of the old moon, except that the rock is magical equivalent of radioactive waste and has a lycanthropic radiation type effect... basically this is my in-game excuse for using all of these nifty "how can we design a radioactive waste depository so that dumb humans from tens or hundreds of thousands of years from now understand that it's dangerous / do not touch and not just laugh it off and raid it, like we ignored the curse warnings and looted the tombs of Pharaohs" type papers in one of my dungeon designs), another artifact was created, which now resides at the core of the new moon (which it created by pulling in all of the chunks of the old moon)

    I've vague idea that pre-catacylsm there was this magic-heavy interplanetary civilization who built gates (borrowing liberally from Stargate SG-1 here), but since the cataclysm, the Earth-like planet at the center of my universe has been cut off from it, all of the Earth-side gates have been destroyed, etc.

    something to keep in my back pocket if my next campaign ever gets high powered enough that they've exhausted all the possibilities one world can offer
  • Tau_Cetacean
    Tau_Cetacean
    Posts: 285
    (also - working on a detailed improvement over the GURPS Space solar system generator for my sci-fi setting based on my own hangups as a recovering planetary geologist, but that's a different topic, you said fantasy)
  • Basileus
    Basileus
    Posts: 589
    Speaking of generating solar systems, there's a nice one here:

    http://www.eldacur.com/~brons/NerdCorner/StarGen/StarGen.html

    Now I can't speak to its accuracy directly, but the author seems to have spent a fair amount of time and attention to detail in creating the algorithms that power it. One nice feature is that you can enter the stellar characteristics and it will use that in the generation of the system - useful if you are wanting to generate a plausible system for real stars.
  • Tau_Cetacean
    Tau_Cetacean
    Posts: 285
    I played with that one many many moons ago... it's okay for retro-future space campaigns (if you want to base your space campaign on 1980s or earlier understanding of solar system formation)... but it doesn't include epistellar jovians or any of the "oh crap, things are more complicated" stuff we've encountered since we've actually started detecting exoplanets
  • Basileus
    Basileus
    Posts: 589 edited January 2016
    Yah, the results it generates are very much just recombinations of what we have in our own solar system. But, maybe useful for baselines - i.e. generate a set of system objects using that, then replace/modify one or two of those with the "cool stuff" that you want for plot purposes.

    That's largely how I use it - to fill in systems with the illusion of detail (that I don't have to generate myself).
    Post edited by Basileus on
  • Tau_Cetacean
    Tau_Cetacean
    Posts: 285
    to be fair to circa 1980s astronomers, we had a pretty beautiful model of how planetary systems formation worked, reverse engineered from our solar system (4 rocky inner planets, 2 gas giants, 2 ice giants) that all made sense

    until we got more data

    (and even then - part of what's going on now is an observation bias - the fact epistellar Jovians exist at all was a huge curveball, but they are also easier to detect than any other kind of planet... so the degree to which solar system-like solar systems are "weird" is sometimes exaggerated... and unfortunately Kepler's gryoscopes crapped out right when it was on the cusp of detecting Earth-sized planets in Earth-like orbits around Sun-like stars... so we're probably a few decades still from really answering the question)

    GURPS Space (2nd Edition) did a decent job of encapsulating 1980s-style understanding of planetary system generation, and there are some good coded up versions of that I've seen online... GURPS Space (4th Edition) tackles epistellar Jovians, but I haven't seen it coded up anywhere online... and there are still some things I'd quibble with about how they do things... and a big missing factor - relating stellar metallicity with properties of the planetary system
  • Basileus
    Basileus
    Posts: 589 edited January 2016
    Since you mention it, Astrobiology Magazine had a neat (short) article about Kepler and exoplanets yesterday:

    "NASA’s Kepler Marks 1,000th Exoplanet Discovery, Uncovers More Small Worlds in Habitable Zones":http://www.astrobio.net/topic/deep-space/new-planets/nasas-kepler-marks-1000th-exoplanet-discovery-uncovers-more-small-worlds-in-habitable-zones/
    Post edited by Basileus on
  • Tau_Cetacean
    Tau_Cetacean
    Posts: 285
    Before I got my current day job, I could go to the weekly colloquiums of a geophysical lab I once interned at and is still a hotspot for exoplanets research... sadly full-time employment gets in the way of that now

    http://exoplanet.eu/ is a good resource for all of the known exo-solar systems to date... there was another one that had illustrations (both showing the orbits and relative sizes of the exoplanets compared to Jupiter), but damned if I can find it now
  • Tau_Cetacean
    Tau_Cetacean
    Posts: 285
    !http://ic.pics.livejournal.com/npunk_timeline/40996480/692241/692241_900.jpg!

    just as an fyi - some new details from the Spitzer space telescope on the exoplanet 55 Cancri-e in the 55 Cancri system (aka Janssen in the Copernicus system, because the IAU has finally gotten around to assigning formal names to some exoplanets and exoplanet host stars)

    8 times the mass of Earth, and almost twice the radius, 18 hour long day/year (tidally locked)

    and here's the new data: the temperature: 1,100°C (2,000°F) - ON THE NIGHT SIDE - on the day side 2,400° C (4,400°F), e.g. molten lava
  • Tau_Cetacean
    Tau_Cetacean
    Posts: 35
    taking a serious look at using this puppy -

    http://www.nbos.com/products/astrosynthesis
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