Setting: You have an armada of intergalactic unmanned drones, whos sole purpose is to survey planets (or portions of planets) and report information about its survivability, and usefulness in emergency situations.

this data is then run through an AI (named M.E.E.P Motherly Emergency Egress Program) who "worries about" every possible catastrophe (using prior black box data) that could take place on the planet / geographical location on planet and returns the safest planet within the available range before total system failure occurs.

Optimally this AI would also return he most useful planet for repairs. But above all is concerned with welfare of travelers aboard.

The only problem is that because of the literal hundreds of thousands of potential planets in the 250,000 lightyear radius that surround the ship, the data returned by drones needs to be small enough where we can read it quickly, but substantial enough to give MEEP enough to go off of.

Any suggestions as to the exact results the drones should report?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Given that the average distance between stars in the Milky Way is 5 light years the number of candidate planets for any emergency that lasts less than a year is going to be low enough that reporting bandwidth will be a non-issue. If you can wait 10+ years for a probe to reach a planet and respond before traveling 5+ years to get there is it really an emergency? $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Apr 25, 2022 at 14:28
  • $\begingroup$ We are assuming we are in a more dense galaxy than the milky way, and have shifted the Einstein Rosen Bridge from the sub quantum level to engulf the ship, but can travel only about 250,000 light years in any direction. Also, the drones are sent ahead of time to chart space before manned exploration, so we have the data already when we get there. $\endgroup$ Apr 25, 2022 at 14:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That's over twice the diameter of the Milky Way Galaxy, but less than the distance between galaxies. If you can jump that far seems like you'd never need to jump anywhere other than whatever the space equivalent of a dry-dock is. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Apr 25, 2022 at 14:45
  • $\begingroup$ But hypersleep though allows us to travel great distances at zero cost except for the minimal life support. Less is the point of how we are getting there, and more of what happens when I need to use the jump when I am in the neighboring galaxy. The jump expensive so we only can use it once, hence when we are in an emergency situation like damage to the hull. $\endgroup$ Apr 25, 2022 at 15:03
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    $\begingroup$ "The data returned by drones needs to be small enough where we can read it quickly": Summary reports are a thing. On the contrary, the data returned by the probes must be exhaustive. We can always filter it out and make a summary report for executive use. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Apr 25, 2022 at 15:11

1 Answer 1


The immediately obvious:

  • Atmospheric composition/pressure.
  • Temperature (diurnal variation), day length.
  • UV and other radiation.
  • Eccentricity of planetary orbit.
  • Presence of biome.
  • Presence of large predators.
  • Presence of advanced lifeform with extreme xenophobic tendencies.
  • Presence of land.
  • Presence of water.
  • Regularity and height of tides.
  • Suitable gravity.
  • Suitable terrain.

Medium term catastrophes and dangers:

  • Tectonic stability.
  • Volcanic activity including "ripe" super-volcanoes.
  • Probability/magnitude of asteroid impact/decade.
  • Stability of star regarding big coronal emissions/decade.
  • Planetary/moon/asteroid orbital stabilities in the whole solar-system.

Long-term issues:

  • Trends in climate-change/glaciation periods.
  • Trajectory of Star relative to neighbours (likelihood of perturbation of planetary orbits).
  • Likelihood of nearby supernova/hypernova or neutron star collision.
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You left out "presence of alien hotties in silver lamé jumpsuits". But except for that omission this is pretty thorough. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Apr 25, 2022 at 22:46
  • $\begingroup$ More seriously, given that the ideal candidate would be "the most useful candidate for repairs", the technology level of the planet is probably the second most important piece of information (after "there are intelligent natives who will want to kill you", covered by your xenophobia criterion). It's more likely that the ship's crew will be able to keep the life support running for a few more weeks than they will be able to create a starship repair facility from scratch, regardless of resource availability. $\endgroup$ Apr 26, 2022 at 12:19

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