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The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Slow and Steady"
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siege From: siege Date: July 8th, 2012 01:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Thoughts

With my previous comment in mind, I'll speculate what a ten-thousand-year-old space habitat might be like.

Let's posit a "rock bubble" habitat, made from an asteroid which was hollowed out, heated until soft, then spun gently until cooled enough to begin construction. Its surface would be pitted and scarred. If the walls weren't thick enough, it would be punctured. Thick walls help protect from radiation as well as impacts, so there's that.

The inner surface would probably be lined with metal, insulation, and plastic, to hold atmosphere and to protect from impact with the hard, potentially rough surface of the habitat's inner wall. That metal would have absorbed a lot of radiation, thus eventually becoming penetrable to impacts that pierce the rocky walls; and the plastic would have probably outgassed fully due to a lack of climate control, leaving just a very thin onion-skin-like film in its place. Any insulation would have decayed according to its nature -- in other words, glass fiber would still be there, while shredded cellulose or plastic would have broken down.

Power supplies are very important. A rock bubble would generally be near or within the asteroid belt, so an external power supply would be in constant danger. Let's presume a thermopile network between the sides (as one would be hot and the other cold at all times due to solar heating), or a small nuclear reactor. Possibly both, if larger amounts of power were needed. Solar panels are possible, but would have had some sort of protective barrier over them. They'd be smashed, and probably broken off if extended on a boom or girder.

Communications would have required some form of antenna, probably outside the shell. Entry and exit means a hatch of some sort. Everything that passes through the shell would need insulation and implies a hole that could let out atmosphere if the inner lining were damaged.

Food supplies might still be present, but would be inedible. One would probably be able to make an educated guess as to their nature and recipes, though.

Activity stations are not always clearly defined in space, because habitable areas are at a premium. Sleeping spaces might be anywhere you can attach a bag or pod, but always in a zone with active airflow (otherwise one's own breath would accumulate in a bubble and cause suffocation). Computer stations might be able to do multiple kinds of work, but some work stations would be designed for specific tasks -- like a panel with the joysticks and/or waldo(s) of a robot-controller's seat.

Kitchens and eating areas would likely have extra-duty air filters, because of all the food particles and other material that can get away from hungry people.

Exercise machines would be present in nearly all cases where long-term habitation occurs, even if artificial gravity is available.

The size of the habitat can sometimes suggest the number of occupants or the kinds of activities that happened inside. Larger bubbles might have been barracks, or just as likely factories.

If stasis or cryogenics are available, after ten thousand years, there's a good chance that you'll find anyone that was inside such chambers, but they probably wouldn't be viable. Vacuum-dried mummies are more likely than rotten corpses or bones.

Integrity of records would depend on the storage method. Holographics are disrupted if the crystals are etched or cracked, and might be altered by radiation. Magnetic storage gets corrupted by radiation and heat. Written materials would decay much like old documents we find on Earth. Etchings and carvings might be scratched, but would at least be visible unless kept in a destructive environment.

If you open a bubble and water floods out, you might have found a scintillation chamber, used to observe and evaluate radiation or hunt for specific kinds of particles; these are always kept sterile. If it wasn't a scintillation chamber, you might just have an environment worthy of many different scientific disciplines, provided you didn't let the contents out! So external scanning methods would be used first, possibly after a couple of lessons learned on just leaping in.

That's pretty much what comes to mind for me, keeping in mind LJ's character limit on comments.
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