The term phaser is an acronym for PHASed Energy Rectification, referring to the original process (now obsolete) by which energy supplied to the phaser system was converted to another form for use against various targets. Phasers may be used for a variety of purposes: at lower energy settings as a nonfatal weapon or an active scan device; at higher settings as a mining tool or weapon. Various sizes of phasers exist, ranging from one easily concealable in the hand (Type I) to rifle-sized (Type III) to those mounted on starships (Type VII – Type X).
Phaser energy is released via the application of the Rapid Nadion Effect (RNE). Nadions are subatomic particles that have the ability to liberate and transfer the strong nuclear forces within particular types of materials (the crystals that the phaser emitters are constructed from). At lower settings, phasers emit simple electromagnetic beams (similar to a laser or a high voltage electrical charge, depending upon the desired effect).
Note: Actual operation of phasers is somewhat unclear as none of the material that currently exists has presented us with a definitive explanation of exactly how the weapon functions or why the various effects we see take place (i.e. the creeping disintegration of people after they have been hit by a phaser and why only the people are disintegrated while their surroundings remain intact). It is unclear as to what the NDF component of the phaser beam is comprised of. The description in the TNG TM implies that the nadions are the medium or catalyst for the phaser energy release, not the constituent of the phaser energy release. The simplest explanation is that the phaser beam is comprised of anti-gluons (a particle not known to exist at this time), since gluons are the basic particles that carry the strong nuclear force. The following material attempts to "fill in the gaps" in accounting for these observed behaviors.
The emitted NDF beam interacts with the target material, disrupting the bonds between atomic/subatomic particles in the atomic nuclei of the material (thereby causing the particles to disassociate and the target material to disintegrate once a critical threshold has been reached). The disintegration of the target material is normally accompanied by secondary explosive effects (resulting from the release of the binding energy in the target material). However, much of the binding energy is consumed in two additional processes which occur in the material impacted by the beam: (1) domain transition–where target material is transitioned out of the normal space domain into subspace; and (2) secondary disintegration (NDF cascade effect)–where material that is not in direct contact with the beam also disintegrates. The energy loss to these two secondary effects is most notable when phasers are used against low density materials (such as carbon-based lifeforms) at medium settings. Due to differences in material composition and lack of direct connectivity on the atomic and subatomic level between, for example, carbon-based lifeforms and other environmental materials (i.e. the dirt or tritanium floor that they are standing upon) these secondary effects do not normally carry over into the surrounding materials.
Target material density (more correctly, binding energy per nucleon or Be/N) has an effect on the efficacy of the phaser beam NDF effects. Materials with a high Be/N are more resistant to NDF effects–although once the critical threshold of the target material is reached, disintegration and secondary explosive effects tend to be both more rapid and more violent due to the higher energy released by the target material.
Neutronium, for example, is essentially impervious to phaser NDF effects because it is collapsed matter–the high Be/N and additional gravitational forces incumbent in collapsed matter means that the critical threshold for neutronium is beyond the output capabilities of even the latest generation of phasers.
We know from multiple canonical examples that phasers are ineffective against neutronium. This (currently) appears to be the ONLY material against which they are ineffective. This is due to the anomalous nature of neutronium (essentially a solid mass of compressed neutrons) and the extreme compressive forces within the neutronium mass. The use of "natural" neutronium appears to be generally contraindicated as standard starship armor or structural material (due most likely to the extreme density/mass and the attendant side-effects). Mention HAS been made of synthetic neutronium that appears to share many (if not all) of the features of "natural" neutronium… but it is likely that this material does not have all of the qualities/effects of "natural" neutronium as it IS used in various mechanisms and as armor in specialized applications. Such use implies that the material can be shaped and held to that shape and that it can be plated to or alloyed with other, more mundane materials. Given this, it is unlikely that synthetic neutronium is phaser proof, it is more likely that it is extremely phaser resistant.
Shipboard Phasers: The UFP uses a number of phaser types as its primary slower-than-light (STL) tactical weapon. Phasers are rated according to emitter size/power, with Type X being the largest and Type VII the smallest normally used on starships. The Galaxy Class, for example, uses the largest, Type X emitters. In the more modern starships the emitters are collected into continuous arrays to maximize both the available firepower and the weapon firing arc. In these cases, the output from the individual emitters is collimated and emitted as a single, coherent beam or pulse. The elliptical saucer main dorsal array that is clearly visible on the upper surface of the Galaxy Class saucer section is an example of this type of array. A single emitter in this array has an output of 5.1 MW, the entire 200 emitter array has a combined output of 1.02 GW.
Array beam parameters may be varied at the discretion of the ship's Commanding Officer/Tactical Officer via the fire control system (although the fire control system will normally adjust the beam autonomously for optimum effect within the current set of Rules of Engagement (ROE) that are in effect). The variable parameters include phaser frequency, phaser energy level, SEM (Simple ElectroMagnetic) to NDF (Nuclear Disruption Force) ratio, beam type (continuous, pulse, and beam cross-section/shape) and duration.
Pulse Phaser Cannons: The pulse phaser cannon (PPC) is a relatively recent development in UFP weapons technology and represents an attempt to package a high level of firepower into a smaller space. The most well-known example of this technology can be seen in the Defiant Class Heavy Escort, which has 4 PPCs that can fire in the forward arc. The PPC uses a mechanism similar to the continuous array, however, the number of emitter elements is smaller (while the emitters themselves are larger and somewhat more powerful) and they are optimized for burst release of their energy.
The following is based upon material and illustrations of the PPC in the DS9 TM and represents MY estimate of the Defiant's weapon capabilities. Many fans tend (in my opinion) to credit too much capability to the Defiant class vessels in regards to combat capability. The ships ARE intended primarily to be warships and they ARE powerful FOR THEIR SIZE (about 1/10th the size of a Galaxy). But they don't really compare on an even basis with such ships as the Galaxy or Nebula class or a Romulan Warbird. Generally, when determining combat capability, bigger IS better (as demonstrated by the relative combat capacity of a wet-navy destroyer versus a battleship–which is essentially what a Defiant versus Galaxy match-up would be). A Defiant class, if lucky or if employed with above normal skill in the proper situation, could destroy a vessel such as a Galaxy or a Romulan Warbird or a Klingon Vor'Cha–but it would be seriously hurt or destroyed itself (witness the rapid destruction of USS Valiant at the hands of the Dominion battleship). Defiant did as well as it did because it is sort of difficult to destroy the ship without killing off most of the major characters–they had to come up with a special weapon in the hands of the Breen to do so–and the ship wasn't actually destroyed until after the crew had abandoned it.
The PPCs on the Defiant Class vessels consist of 9 large emitter crystals, the associated focusing, control and firing equipment, and an output capacitor. The individual emitters fire in sequence at various frequency and energy level offsets (as determined by the fire control system), the output from each emitter being held in the output capacitor until all the emitters have fired, at which time the pulse is released towards the target. The frequency and energy offsets of each of the individual emitters has the effect of making the pulse generally more effect against target shielding–increasing the drain on target shields and the probability of shield penetration. The four PPCs in a Defiant Class vessel (due to efficiency increases, high cyclic rate and the previously mentioned frequency/energy offset) compare well in output to the saucer main dorsal array of a Galaxy Class starship (an estimated 650 MW versus 1020 MW)–in a package that is less than 1/10th the mass and requires a much smaller crew.
Hand Weapons: A number of types of hand phaser weapons exist and are currently deployed. The Type I is a small weapon that fits easily in the hand and is used when Starfleet personnel do not want to appear armed for diplomatic or security reasons. Its settings range from 1 to 8. The Type II is a larger, pistol sized weapon and has additional additional settings 9-16. The Type III is a rifle equivalent and several models exist (the model seen in TNG and the early DS9 episodes which is obsolescent but still in use and the Type IIIa and IIIb seen in later DS9, Voyager episodes, and in ST: First Contact and ST: Insurrection). The Type III has settings from 1-16 and an increased power cell capacity (50% greater than the Type I and Type II).
Settings 1 – 3 are stun settings of increasing severity; settings 5 and 6 cause thermal and cellular disruption effects but are not necessarily fatal; setting 7 is fatal to standard lifeforms (without causing the body to disintegrate); setting 8 will disassociate a human-sized lifeform; and settings 9-16 cause increasing degrees of damage, with setting 16 capable of explosively decoupling up to 650 cubic meters of rock per shot.
The following material is drawn from the TNG and DS9 TMs. I will be doing comparisons, as time permits between the data presented in the TMs and observed effects in the episodes and movies. If you know of any scenes or dialog that might be helpful/informative, please let me know (and please give the episode or movie in which it can be found).
SEM:NDF ratio is the ratio between the Simple Electromagnetic and Nuclear Disruption Force components of the phaser beam. Damage Index is the penetration of the beam into a sample of standard target material (which seems to be roughly analogous to hull material) per discharge in centimeters.
One of the major questions here is, what is meant by explosive decoupling? How much, if any, of the target material undergoes domain transition? Logic indicates that it would be less than 50%, since a domain transition of 50% or better leads to disassociation of the target material (judging from the damage description concerning humanoid vaporization).
Looking at the table, it is evident that lower density materials will disassociate first… up to a certain point. Once past a particular discharge energy threshold (at about setting 10 or SEM:NDF ratio of greater than 1:10) lower density materials appear to be less apt to totally disassociate. This may be due to a number of factors, the most likely being that the NDF cascade effect cannot propagate through the less dense material with sufficient speed to prevent material failure/energetic fracture of the target material prior to disassociation. The remainder of the non-disassociated mass seems to decouple to a degree with minor explosive effects (sufficient to propel the material several feet with a moderate velocity). Since it is NOT stated that medium. Heavy or ultradense alloys undergo this effect, it seems reasonable to conclude, at this point, that these materials propagate the NDF cascade with sufficient rapidity to allow total disassociation of the affected mass. Since no data is provided concerning the affected mass and no clear canonical examples exist to provide a reasonable estimate of the affected mass (i.e. examples where it would be easy to determine the amount of duranium, steel, or tritanium disassociated with any degree of accuracy), it is extremely difficult or even impossible to provide an accurate estimate of hand phaser effectiveness against ship structural materials.
Medium alloys are most likely what we today would consider aerospace structural materials (alloys of titanium, aluminum, vanadium, etc.). heavy alloys are most likely steels, stainless steels, and nickel-base alloys. Dense alloys would most likely be comprised of depleted uranium and similar materials such as osmium, platinum and gold. Ultradense alloys are most likely comprised of materials from the ST Expanded Periodic Table of Elements (no copies of which are currently available for examination). This would include duranium and tritanium (whose names indicate that they are elements, not alloys).
As an aside, however, we DO know that it takes 2.4e6 MJ (2.4 TJ) to vaporize 1 m^3 of tritanium [p. 134 of the TNG TM]. It seems probable that a Type II hand phaser at setting 16 possesses the capability to disassociate this volume of tritanium, however, we have no canonical or official indication of this capability.
According to the TNG TM, the standard Type X emitter has an output of 5.1 MW [p. 123]. Also according to the TNG TM, the Type II phaser has an output limit of 0.01 MW [p. 123]. This would imply that a Type X emitter is 510 times more powerful than a Type II phaser (ignoring any losses in efficiency which may exist). Adjusting the chart above for this factor we end up with the following (this is extremely inaccurate as we have no clear indication of the relationship between shipboard phaser settings and hand phaser settings… that is, while it is canonically established that shipboard phasers may be set to stun settings and high SEM settings (for applications such as energy transfer and active scanning) we do not know the upper limit for ship mounted emitter SEM:NDF ratio… it is likely that it may exceed the 1:40 ration of the hand phasers):
The figures above apply to a single Type X emitter. Making an adjustment for density (7.3 cc/g versus 6 cc/g in the case of iron versus the material listed above), a single Type X emitter can probably disassociate an spherical asteroid composed of iron that has a radius of 46.9 meters.
The main forward dorsal array on a GCS is compose of 200 Type X emitters. Recharge rate on GCS emitter arrays is less than or equal to 0.5 seconds. This means that at high power outputs, there will be a 0.78 second delay between the beginning of 1 discharge and the beginning of the next.
The volume displaced using setting 16 is roughly equivalent to a spherical asteroid composed of iron that has a radius of 274.5 m^3. A single discharge at this setting would geologically displace a planetary surface area ~8 km on a side to a depth of 1 meter. This number matches up well with observed effects, particularly those observed in the TNG episode "Q Who" (the E-D's first encounter with the Borg). During this episode, the E-D fires upon the Cube, creating three hemispherical craters in the cube. An analysis of the imagery indicates that the craters have a diameter that exceeds the breadth of the E-D saucer section (~463 meters). It should be kept in mind that the Cube material probably has an average density greater than 6g/cc and most likely has some sort of reinforcement field, similar to the SIF, in operation. It should ALSO be kept in mind that the outer structure of a Cube is diffuse (meaning the material is not one solid mass). The Cube evidently either has no defensive shields active or the defensive field was not effective against phaser effects (until the Borg adapted to phaser weapons). A video clip of this event can be viewed here.
Phasers and other NDF weapons appear to be highly effective against standard ship structural and hull materials (including ultradense alloys such as tritanium and duranium). The DS9 Dominion War arc has provided numerous examples of NDF effect weapons (phasers, disrupters, and polaron beams) in action. Once shield penetration is accomplished, destruction of the target ship is very rapid (within a few seconds at most) due to the combined effects of weapon fire and internal system failure. In the following example, you can see that the Excelsior class ship is struck on the ventral saucer surface by a polaron beam from a Cardassian orbital weapon platform. Penetration of the shield and of the Excelsior saucer section takes about 1 second (16 frames). Careful examination of the video reveals that , while the weapon beam is of a fairly small diameter (~3 meter diameter) the resultant hole in the ship is several times that in diameter (20 meters or more in diameter). It can also be noted that the ship structural materials are slightly less affected by the NDF cascade than are the hull material and the internal, nonstructural materials (i.e. bulkheads, decks, etc.). This video can be viewed here.
Putting actual energy equivalency numbers to these capacities is difficult, if not impossible, due to the fact that the actual energy output of a phaser (or other NDF effect weapon) cannot be directly correlated to standard EM weapons or to NDF effects. While target material vaporization DOES occur, this vaporization is the result of domain transition of a significant portion of the target material, not the result of thermal energy addition and is more correctly labeled as disassociation or disintegration.
That being said, it SHOULD be possible to provide a rough EM equivalency for NDF effects on the following bases:
(1) This equivalency value represents the amount of energy a SEM weapon (such as a laser, plasma weapon or standard particle beam) would have to put out to achieve a similar result to a NDF weapon;
(2) This value DOES NOT reflect the actual energy output of the NDF weapon (which is usually orders of magnitude lower);
(3) This value is an approximation (and a poor one at that) as most SEM weapons cannot match phaser or other NDF weapon effects with any precision and without extensive release of additional energies to the environment. If, for example, a hand phaser utilized a SEM beam to achieve its effects, use of the weapon at these settings would cause extensive secondary damage (usually in the form of a shock wave or thermal pulse should the discharge take place in an atmosphere) to the immediate area and to the wielder of the weapon;
(4) We assume that, to match the disassociation effect of the NDF weapon, the SEM weapon MUST vaporize, as a minimum, the amount of material the phaser causes to transition out of the continuum (this has the approximate effect of cutting the EM equivalency in half, as to make the total mass "disappear," the SEM weapon would have to vaporize the entire mass);
(5) In order to provide a reasonably accurate estimate, the data from the TNG TM section on hand phasers will be utilized to provide the baseline data (as it is difficult to quantify most of the scenarios we see in the movies/episodes to a reasonable degree of accuracy);
(6)NDF effects vary with target material type. This means that it is NOT easily possible to simply determine NDF EM equivalency at a lower setting and interpolate it to an EM equivalency for a higher setting or another type of target material that differs substantially than the target material the original calculations were done for.
EM Equivalency Calculation (Type II hand phaser):
NOTE: data for the following calculations is taken from either the Marks' Standard Handbook for Mechanical Engineers (10th Ed.) or CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (80th Ed.).
Case 1: Disassociation of a humanoid target (setting 8).
Assumptions: A humanoid target is comprised overwhelmingly of water, therefor, in order to disintegrate a humanoid it is necessary to vaporize a mass of water equivalent to the mass of the target in question. For the purposes of this particular example, basis (4) above is NOT applied, the calculation determines the amount of energy needed to vaporize the ENTIRE mass.
Water: Mass: 80 kg, molar mass: 18 g/mol, enthalpy of vaporization :43.350 kJ/mol (@ 313.15 K.. about human body temperature)
energy = mass/molar mass x enthalpy of vaporization or;
80,000 g/18 g/mol x 43.350 kJ/mol = 192.67 MJ
Discharge duration for this setting is 1.75 seconds, so output power is 110.1 MW or roughly 11,000 times the stated MAXIMUM for a Type II phaser (0.01 MW).
Case 2: Explosive decoupling of 650 m^3 of rock/ore (6 g/cc density).
Assumptions: Since 50% continuum transition will result in the disassociation of the entire target mass, transition percentage must be less than 50%. Also, since transition/disruption seems to flow in order from least to most dense, the least dense material in the target mass will transition first (in the case of this particular target material this would be the Silicon (Si) content, which is markedly less dense than the heavier elements in the total target mass (the iron and other metals). given a density of 6 g/cc, the Si content of the rock/ore is less than 50% (in order to achieve this average density). If we calculate for a 1% domain transition for the Si, this represents approximately 0.5% of the total mass. The actual EM equivalency will most likely fall between the 1% and the 50% value (0.5% to 25% of the total mass).
Rock/Ore: mass: 6,000 kg/m^3, total mass 3.9e6 kg, 0.5% of total 195,000 kg, 25% of total 975,000 kg.
Si: melts @ 1684 K, boils at 3540 K, enthalpy of fusion: 1802 kJ/kg, enthalpy of vaporization 14,050 kJ/kg; molar weight 28.086 g/mol; specific heat 0.8 kJ/kg K
The Si will go through two phase changes: solid to liquid and liquid to vapor. It is assumed that the starting temperature is 298 K.
(1) Calculate energy required to raise temperature from 298 to 1684 K:
195,000 kg x 0.8 kJ/kg K x (1684-298 K) = 2.16e8 kJ or 2.16e5 MJ
(2) Calculate energy necessary for solid to liquid phase change:
195,000 kg x 1802 kJ/kg = 3.51e8 kJ or 3.51e5 MJ
(3) Calculate energy required to raise temperature from 1684 to 3540 k:
195,000 kg x 0.8 kJ/kg x (3540-1684) = 2.89e8 kJ or 2.89e5 MJ
(4) Calculate energy required for liquid to vapor phase change:
195,000 kg x 14,050 kJ/kg = 2.74e9 kJ or 2.74e6 MJ
(5) Total energy required for vaporization is the sum of the above: 3.59e6 MJ
Discharge duration at setting 16 is 0.28 seconds, total EM power output equivalency is: 1.28e7 MW or 12.8 TW
Total energy required for vaporization equivalent to a 50% domain transition of the Si content would be 640 TW.
If we interpolate this output to the Type X starship mounted emitter used on the Galaxy class (output factor is 510, ignoring possible inefficiencies) set at an equivalent to setting 16, we end up with an output that ranges from 6,528 TW to 326,400 TW for a single emitter. This would result in a main forward dorsal array output (200 total emitter segments) between 1,305,600 TW and 65,200,000 TW.
Actual EM output equivalency will likely be closer to the 1% value than to the 50% value, other than that, it is difficult to come any closer to a particular value than to say that it would fall into the range above. (Actually it would be reasonable to say that domain transition is more equivalent to atomization than it is to vaporization, which would require an additional energy input to atomize the vapor… in which case the EM output equivalency would be higher).
The UFP presently uses two types of autonomous seeking weapons: photon torpedoes and quantum torpedoes. The term torpedo in this context is somewhat misleading in that the weapons in question perform more like 20th Century air-to-air missiles than they do wet-navy torpedoes. Both weapons make use of similar or identical technologies with the exception of the warhead package. The torpedo is the UFP's primary Faster-Than-Light (FTL) and extended range weapon for starship tactical operations.
Note: Photon torpedo explosive yields can be readily calculated because we know the amount of reactants in the torpedo warheads. The actual equivalency of isotons to explosive yield remains somewhat questionable in that the various TM's list the values that I give here. In the Voyager episode "Scorpion Part 2" the explosive yield of a photon torpedo is stated in dialog as 200 isotons–using the figures in the TM, this would require a reactant mass in excess of 70 kg, which is unlikely–therefore, it seems that a decimal place has been lost somewhere–either in the TM's or in the dialog. In any case, it is the energy equivalency of the isoton unit that changes, not the explosive force of the torpedo, itself( which means that if you use the Voyager isoton equivalency, multiply the isoton figures here by a factor of 10)–UNLESS, of course, the Voyager torpedo has an actual output of 200 TM isotons (which, however unlikely, is possible, should sufficient room be made in the casing for the required reactant mass).
A torpedo has 4 primary components: the casing; the warhead package; the guidance and control package; and the propulsion package.
(1) The casing contains and protects the other components and is provided with penetrations for sensors, propulsion and component access.
(2a) The photon torpedo warhead is a matter/antimatter reaction device. The warhead yield is variable at the discretion of the ship's Commanding Officer/Tactical Officer but, due to reaction inefficiencies, the upper limit of warhead yield is currently 18.5 isotons using a 7.3 kg combined matter/antimatter loading.
(2b) The quantum torpedo warhead is a two-stage device which relies upon Zero Point Energy (ZPE) for its primary effect. The first stage of the warhead is a standard photon torpedo warhead whose yield has been boosted to an output of 21.8 isotons. The output of this stage of the warhead is used to activate the Zero Point Initiator (ZPI) which, in turn, releases the ZPE that exists within the space contained within the initiator in the warhead. Nominal yield is approximately 50 isotons.
(3) The guidance and control package is a combination of sensors, navigation control and fire control (warhead fusing, safety systems and detonation control). The torpedo may be employed in a number of modes: autonomous; semiautonomous; or command. In autonomous mode, the torpedo uses its onboard sensors to locate and track its designated target and attempts to intercept that target within the parameters loaded into its control system by the Tactical Officer/ship's fire control system. In semiautonomous mode, the ship uses a combination of its own sensor data and data provided via link from the launching (or other designated) ship to intercept its target. In command mode, the torpedo follows flight control commands received via link from the launching (or other designated) ship.
(4) The propulsion package consists of a matter/antimatter fuel cell, a reaction chamber, warp sustainer coils, and exhaust venturies and provides the propulsive capability of the torpedo. A torpedo launched at warp will travel at warp as it acquires a hand-off warp field from the launching ship. This warp field is sustained by the power input to the warp sustainer coils by the M/A fuel cell. Torpedo warp velocity may exceed launching ship velocity by up to 10%. Maneuverability is provided by differential constriction of the exhaust venturies. A torpedo launched sub-light does not have warp flight capability (as no hand-off warp field is generated). Propulsion is provided by the initial launch impulse and is augmented by the exhaust from the M/A reaction in the fuel cell. Torpedo sublight velocity may exceed launching ship velocity by up to 75% (but will in no case break the warp barrier). Current maximum effective range of the latest generation torpedo (including, it is assumed, quantum torpedoes) is 4,050,000 km.
More information on torpedo warp propulsion is available in the Warp Propulsion System section of the Propulsion page.
There is some question as to the effectiveness of torpedo warheads. If the explosion is unshaped, then most (easily more than 50%) of the yield energy is wasted into empty space due to the spherical nature of the explosion wavefront. The weapon is also a electromagnetic weapon rather than a NDF weapon, which further reduces its effectiveness. Certain passages in the quantum torpedo description in the DS9 TM imply that the M/A explosion CAN be shaped, directed and retained (for a brief period of time) in the torpedo through the use of a combination lining of dilithium and synthetic neutronium and it would seem logical to extend this technology to the standard photon torpedo–in which case you significantly improve the effectiveness of the weapon, turning it into the 23rd century equivalent of an air-to-air missile with a shaped charge (HEAT) warhead.
Tactical Deflectors (Shields)
Tactical deflectors represent a combination technology, similar to that of standard UFP tractor beams in function. The standard UFP shield generator has two primary subassemblies: (1) a graviton generator (capacity dependent upon the particular model and application); and (2) a subspace field generator/amplifier (whose capabilities are standardized and can be modified via software modification).
Each primary subassembly plays a particular role in protecting the ship. The gravitonic subassembly provides protection form physical impacts by redirecting physical objects away from the ship via gravitic interaction. The latest generation of the standard shield generator has an impulse capacity of approximately 5.6e13 Newtons at a 125 meter stand off distance [this is sufficient to impart an delta V of 3e8 m/sec^2 (c) to a 185,600 kg object or to severely refract EM energy]. This impulse increases to 5.7e16 Newtons at a standoff of 4.5 meters (which is the approximate standoff for the hull-tight shields we see in the late DS 9 episodes}. This impulse is sufficient to impart a acceleration of c to a 191,000 metric ton object or to severely refract EM energies. Final object trajectory will be determined by the vector sum of the shield impulse vector and the object velocity vector. The shield impulse vector is, by design, perpendicular to the shield surface, directly outward from the shield.
The frequency agile subspace field generator/amplifier provides protection against EM and quasi-EM phenomena and weapons (including NDF effect weapons such as phasers and disruptors). protection is provided by two phenomena. The subspace field generated by the shield generator produces no propulsive effects (but does interfere with standard warp fields) because it lacks the requisite geometry that causes the propulsive effect in standard warp fields. The first effect is subspace scattering, when incoming energies are scattered away from the ship by subspace field interaction in which (for example) an incoming weapon beam's cross-section is expanded and the beam itself is refracted by the field. This causes the beam (or portions of the beam) to miss the ship. The degree of refraction and scattering is a function of weapon/energy frequency mismatch–the greater the mismatch, the greater the refraction/scattering. The second effect is subspace domain transition. The presence of an active subspace field surrounding the ship places the ship out of phase with normal space-time. The degree of displacement is a function of shield field frequency. A higher frequency causes a greater phase shift due to an increase in field strength. A high degree of phase offset between the incoming energy and the ship lowers the amount of interaction between the energy and the ship. In the case of a NDF weapon passing through the shield and striking the ship, any mismatch between beam phase and ship phase means that less of the ship's material will be affected by the beam (usually enough to preclude all but microscopic damage–this is supported by comments in the TNG TM personal phasers section where it is stated that high power phaser beams DO affect shielded materials THROUGH the shield). Both effects in combination protect the ship against NDF fluxes up to (in the case of the most powerful shipborne model of the latest generation standard shield) 750 MW at standard loads and approximately 928 GW at peak load.
Shield generators possess frequency agility over their band of operation in order to minimize or prevent Threat weapon phase matches, thereby allowing the weapon energies to bypass the protective function of the shield. Protection against wide-band EM fluxes is provided by maximizing shield frequency, thereby maximizing phase offset. Wide-band protection is usually not employed because it is extremely energy intensive and it interferes extensively with ship sensor function.
Both aspects of the tactical deflector are subject to withering effects (reduction of capability) under sustained load. The gravitonic aspect withers due to graviton consumption in excess of generator refresh rate. As gravitons are consumed in interactions, the generator attempts to maintain field strength. As generator load increases, heat builds up in the generator, reducing generator efficiency and additionally lowering refresh rate in a vicious circle. Generator cooling capacity is therefore a prime determinant of shield strength and duration. Shield graviton strength is also reduced by NDF effect (the NDF effect causes the energetic gravitons that come into contact with the weapon beam to undergo domain transition, effectively removing them from the field). The subspace aspect is subject to withering is due to a similar mechanism. Energies passing through the subspace field create interference in the field and resonances which feed back to the subspace generator/amplifier, causing heat to build up in the generator/amplifier and reducing efficiency. This reduction in efficiency results in a progressive weakening of the subspace field due to an inability to maintain frequency parameters. In extreme cases, field frequency will either lock at a set frequency (or limited range of frequencies), allowing Threat weapons to affect the ship or the the shield will actually collapse. Other types of tactical deflector equipment exist beyond the standard shield generator. These include multiphasic shielding and regenerative shielding.
Multiphasic shielding represents a software (and limited hardware) modification to the standard shield generator. The multiphasic generator is able to generate multiple subspace fields simultaneously at various frequency offsets. This approach has several advantages over the standard shield in particular applications in that it:
(1) decreases the possibility of threat vessels determining the ship's field frequency for weapon frequency matching (due to the inability of the Threat sensors to accurately scan the inner field layers); and
(2) increases scattering effects by causing the energy to pass through multiple subspace fields. The increase in scattering effect is particularly useful against wide-band EM fluxes.
The regenerative shield represents an extensive hardware and software modification to the standard shield generator. Regenerative shielding possesses the capability of using incoming energy to feed the shielding systems through modified feedback via the same subspace interactions that cause shield withering. This power may be shunted to either of the subassemblies individually or both subassemblies together. The parasitic feedback (in the case of subspace interaction effects) has the additional benefit of reducing generator heat buildup in proportion to the amount of parasitic siphoning. The result is a shield that is more resistant to withering effects, though it is not necessarily stronger than a non-regenerative field in overall capacity.
As noted before, this particular approach to tactical deflectors is intended to address several effects that the previous model did not address as well:
(1) Why shield and weapon frequency is important and exactly what frequencies are meant by those particular references in the official materials and episodes/movies.
(2) Why the ship experiences impacts and impact accelerations when a weapon such as a phaser or disruptor hits the ship when the shields are up at full… The beam actually passes through the field (though it is greatly attenuated) and so an impact IS felt. Physical object impacts SHOULD NOT impart an acceleration to the ship, based upon the basic shield gravitonic interaction process laid out in the TNG TM, unless the object somehow makes it through the shield.
(3) Why, in ST:6 UC, for example, a photon torpedo that bursts against the shield still leaves a burn mark on the ship's hull… the physical torpedo is stopped by the gravitonic component of the shield and detonates. The energy flux from the detonation is attenuated by the subspace component but is still powerful enough (if the shield is sufficiently close to the hull) to affect the outer layer of the hull and impart an impact acceleration. The presence of such phenomena also implies that torpedo explosions DO have a subspace component. This is most likely due to the fact that the torpedo explodes within a drive field created by the sustainer coils (even when traveling STL). The (subspace) frequency of the warhead energies will be determined by the parameters of the torpedo drive field… the closer the match to the phase offset, the greater the amount of damage done to the ship. Explosion of the torpedo within the shield magnifies the effective yield of the warhead because it reduces the scattering effect (because the energy passes through less of the shield field and because the field both acts as a lens, focusing the detonation and because the energies interact with the subspace component, resulting in an increased phase match with the target).
Deflectors, by design, are not continuously effective against the entire EM spectrum. If the entire EM spectrum were blocked, it would not be possible for the shielded ship to see beyond the confines of the shield. The programming of the deflectors provide windows for the ship's sensors to look out through while protecting the ship. Shield frequency and bandwidth are randomly varied to minimize the potential of Threat vessels determining shield operating parameters and adjusting their weapon parameters to more easily penetrate or even bypass the shield. It is also possible for the shield parameters to be modified (either by the Tactical Officer or autonomously by the deflector control system) in order to optimize the shields against Threat weapons of known frequency and spectrum.
Deflectors also interfere with the formation and geometry of the ship's warp field. This interference is counteracted by a number of specialized subroutines in the flight control, propulsion, and tactical systems.
The figures and data given below for Galaxy class deflector shield strengths are based primarily on the data in the TNG TM and on calculations based upon similarities between the deflector and tractor descriptions in the TNG TM (leading to the implication that the two share a common technology, means of operation and similar capabilities based upon power output). Adjustments have also been made for observed behavior on the shows and in the movies.
Given the similarities between tractor beams and tactical (and navigational) deflectors, it should be possible to calculate an approximate standard gravitic impulse for a shield generator:
The main tractor beam of a GCS uses two 16 MW graviton polarity sources (32 MW total). the tractor beam can impart a nominal delta-V of 5 m/s^2 to a payload of 7,500,000 metric tons at a standoff of 1000 meters. It can impart the same delta-V to an object of 1 metric ton at ranges approaching 20,000 km. The tactical deflector system utilizes twelve 32 MW graviton polarity sources (384 MW total) which, at 1000 meters, should be able to impart a delta-V of 5 m/s^2 to a payload approaching 1.8e8 metric tons. This is a force (gravitic impulse) of approximately 9e11 Newtons.
Shield standoff distances are usually substantially less than 1000 meters. We have seen standoffs varying from approximately 100 meters for the E-D in TNG to skin tight for various ships in DS9. It has been canonically and officially established that shield standoff distance can be varied through operator input. It is also stated that the lower the shield standoff distance, the more powerful the shield (this makes sense, as the strength would vary either by the inverse square rule or as a function of shield surface area [as standoff distance is reduced by a factor of 2, shield strength will increase by a factor of 4]). The surface area rule seems to be the more probable indicator of shield strength variance and using that rule we end up with a gravitic impulse of 5.76e13 N at a standoff of 125 meters for the standard GCS tactical deflector operating at nominal power. At peak power, the rating would be 7.1e16 N. These translate into the capacity to stop a 192 metric ton object traveling at c at nominal power and stopping a 236,667 metric ton object traveling at c at peak power. Both of these figures are for SINGLE shield generators.
It should be noted that a certain percentage of shield capacity will be consumed by standard navigational and radiation hazard protection, reducing the capacity available for other uses. The unavailable capacity will be determined by local conditions (gas/dust density and background radiation flux).
The standard UFP shield generator used in the Galaxy class has a standard graviton load rating of 384 MW and a minimum NDF energy dissipation rate of approximately 104 MW. Peak graviton load of a single generator is approximately 473 GW with a minimum NDF energy dissipation rate of 128 GW for 0.17 seconds.
During normal (Cruise Mode) operation, 2 generators (1 in the saucer section and 1 in the engineering hull) provide energy to the shield grid, with the saucer providing coverage for the warp nacelles via shield extension. During alert situations, 7 generators are on-line in parallel phase lock with 3 generators providing coverage for the saucer, 2 for the engineering hull and 1 for each nacelle. Operating in phase lock allows energy transference across the shield grid, allowing total shield energy to be concentrated against particularly energetic attacks/physical impacts. Most UFP starship tactical deflector systems operate operate in a similar manner, depending upon the actual geometry/hullform of the ship.
In the episodes/movies we hear continual references to forward, aft, port or starboard shields, while the TNG TM implies that the shields are unitary in nature (with the 7 generators operating in parallel phase lock). I have split the generator load among the various sections of the ship, in accordance with the actual placement of shield generators. This serves to allow such references, while still allowing for shield energy to be transferred between shields. In this case, the saucer deflector is the forward shield, the engineering hull deflector is the aft shield, and the warp nacelle shields are the port and starboard shields. The nacelle shielding is the weakest because the deflector interferes with warp propulsion, making the nacelles prime targets (we often see how easily ships lose warp propulsion capability in combat)–this is probably a contributing factor in why so many battles seem to be fought STL rather than FTL (after all, it wouldn't do to lose a warp nacelle when you are traveling at warp–the ship would immediately be destroyed).
Using the shield energy distribution detailed above, it is possible to estimate how long a tactical deflector could resist a particular level of weapon fire. The PEDR of the shield represents the amount of incoming energy (of whatever form) the shield can dissipate without going into overload (that is, having to draw more power than the base power rating). The baseline PEDR can be maintained almost indefinitely. The overload PEDR will result in rapid withering of the shield due to heat build up/energy rebound in the tactical deflector system (at peak power the tactical deflectors can only be maintained for 0.17 seconds). Thus, the amount of shield overload will determine the rate at which the shield withers (but this is only a rough estimate). For example:
A GCS forward shield utilizes 3 shield generators, giving it a combined PEDR of 312 MW NDF and a gravitic impulse of 1.78e14 N (it is assumed, for this example, that energy cannot be cross-bled from the other sections of the shield and that the shield is operating at an approximate stand off of 125 meters).
Given the above, the forward shield could resist penetration by a GCS main forward dorsal phaser array for approximately:
384,000 MW (for 0.17sec) / 1020 MW x 0.17 sec = 64 seconds.
This assumes that the shield is optimized against the incoming energy and that no other loads are being experienced by the shield. Threat manipulation of weapon frequency and energy, as well as the presence of additional loads upon the shield (due to background radiation, the presence of dust, gas or other objects, etc.) will lower this time, often significantly.
Calculating deflector resistance to torpedoes is more difficult as the kinetic energy of the torpedo must be accounted for, as well as the energy of the warhead. In addition, the effects of warhead detonation inside an active subspace field (the sustainer coil drive field) appear to give the energy an effect beyond what is to be expected (meaning that it is possible that the presence of the drive field phases the detonation such that a significant portion of the energy can bypass the tactical deflector.
Little information is available about the cloaking devices used by the Romulans and the Klingons. What follows is a possible explanation concerning their theoretical basis and function.
The cloaking device allows a starship to operate within certain constraints with what is essentially invisibility. A cloaked starship is extremely hard (though not impossible) to detect, though neither weapons nor active sensors can be used while cloaked. Earlier generation cloaks were much simpler than the latest generation technology used by the Klingons and the Romulans. Early cloaked vessels could be tracked via motion detection (TOS "Balance of Terror")and by exhausted waste products and impulse reaction products (ST VI:Undiscovered Country). Contemporary cloaked vessels cannot be tracked in this manner.
A ship is cloaked via the application of a cloaking field, which is similar in many respects to a warp propulsion or other subspace fields. This field, which operates on a different frequency and bandwidth than standard subspace fields, essentially submerges the cloaked ship into an additional domain of subspace beyond that used for warp propulsion, essentially taking it out of phase with the universe at large. Because the ship is slightly out of phase with the normal space-time continuum, it is extremely difficult to detect. The ship and field are essentially transparent to most scans and natural phenomena and material that is released from the ship remains phased (and hence, undetectable). Further refinements and advances in cloaking technology have advanced cloaking techniques to the point where it is now becoming possible to almost completely disassociate the ship from the normal space-time continuum, enabling the ship to pass through solid objects and making it largely immune to weapons fire.
Cloaking devices are extremely power intensive (on the level of warp drives) and this level of power consumption in conjunction with the fact that any energies or objects launched or released from a cloaked vessel remain out of phase, means that weapons cannot be used while a ship is cloaked–thus a starship must decloak before it can engage in combat.