I spent a week at Martinez Platform performing routine maintenance and contemplating what I would do next. My basic decision was whether I’d follow my heart and head back out to the lonely depths of space, or head back into so-called civilized space and earn credits more quickly. After completing the routine maintenance, I needed to take a short validation cruise. As I was looking and the galactic map, I saw a giant red blob just over 25 light years away: Kepler-16. That’s a famous name, so I decided it would be the destination for my maintenance validation trip.
Kepler-16 is a cool red giant with a hot Jupiter orbiting it at 0.65 AU which is 325 ls. 1
The star itself has a solar radius 46.6 times greater than Sol so the first 108 ls of that orbit is within the star’s photosphere. That leaves the planet 217 ls from the surface of the star which has a temperature of 2,952 degrees kelvin. The surface of Kepler-16 1 is subsequently heated to 1,074 degrees kelvin. Thus the name hot Jupiter. There are 6 high metal content worlds in orbit of Kepler-16 as well making this a high value survey, though I was not the first to do so. Their surface temperatures are far too high to make any of them terraforming candidates.
And that was all it took. As I did my video catalog flyby of Kepler-16 1, I knew I was going back out again, credits be damned. I have a good ship that fits my needs. She does not need replacing. Galactic Survey Expedition Two (GSE2) was inevitable. So I returned to Martinez Platform, provisioned my ship for three months (with a months extra supply of coffee crammed into every nook and cranny I could find,) and left for the core of the Milky Way. I am making maximum jumps to get across humanity’s home region, the Orion Spur, and I hope to find a route along the edge of the Scutum Dark Region that will bring me to the main Sagittarius Arm. Once there, I plan to travel up the arm until I can safely cross the gap to the Scutum-Centaurus Arm and follow it toward the rim. I am only stopping along the way to survey systems that have never been surveyed.
The first such system I cam across was COL 359 SECTOR HL-X D1-79. This K-type main sequence star has 8 valuable planets. And by valuable I mean not just in the monetary sense. The six innermost worlds are all terraforming candidates, and even the rocky moon COL 359 SECTOR HL-X D1-79 4 A is a terraforming candidate! I didn’t even realize this until I was looking at my system’s updated data after I’d finished scanning all bodies. I’ve never before encountered a moon terraforming candidate, let alone one where the parent planet was also one. Makes me wish I’d have gotten a picture of them together. Needless to say, the moon did not get a flyby in my catalog video.
The next unsurveyed system was COL 359 SECTOR QI-S D4-13, a G-type star a large class III gas giant and a metal and rock ringed gas giant of equal size supporting water-based life in its atmosphere.
The next two systems I stopped to survey, G-type COL 359 SECTOR JX-I C10-18 and K-type COL 359 SECTOR UO-Q D5-6, each had a terraforming candidate as their first planet. The only other planet of note in COL 359 SECTOR JX-I C10-18 was a high metal content world far distant at 13.3 AU (6636.8 ls.) In actuality, the inner planets of this system had already been surveyed. I made an exception because such distant high metal content worlds always catch my attention, and no one had yet surface scanned it. COL 359 SECTOR UO-Q D5-6 had three other high metal content worlds and a lovely Neptune like gas giant. Honestly, it had also been surveyed before, but I needed a break from jump-scoop-jump-scoop routine.
The last system I encountered without a survey was COL 359 SECTOR DX-Z C14-11. This is a binary system with a K-type main sequence primary and a M-type red dwarf companion. The M-type companion had a single high metal content world. The K-type primary’s two innermost planets were far more interesting. COL 359 SECTOR DX-Z C14-11 1 is a terraforming candidate. COL 359 SECTOR DX-Z C14-11 2 is a terrestrial water world with carbon-water based life. Jackpot! It’s the featured image in this log entry, but here it is again in all its lovely blue splendor.
I am currently more than 700 light years inward of Kaleo. Over the next week I hope to make it across the inner arm gap. I’ve already had one close encounter with a dark object which caused an emergency drop out of super cruise. I repaired the resultant system damage, but my hull integrity was reduced three percent. It’s not much, but when you’re as far out as I am no amount of damage makes you happy. I’ll endeavor to be more careful. Who knows what else is lurking in the void between the stars. You all fly careful too.
- This star system is not the actual star system identified by the Kepler space telescope and designated number sixteen. The actual Kepler-16 system is a binary with a K-type main-sequence star and M-type red dwarf companion. There is a single Saturn sized planet confirmed in orbit of the binary pair. Current theory holds that when Sol enters its red giant phase, Jupiter will then become a hot Jupiter. However, to date we have not detected any hot Jupiter type planets in orbit around red giant stars to confirm the theory. You all fly careful too. ↩