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Okay, so the space pirates came. We tried turning stealth on, but they just turned their IR sensors on and took our loot. Well, the space pirates are coming back again for more space piracy! This time, we disguise the ship as something else.

What could we disguise our ship as? The requirements are the same as "Stealth in Space: How realistic is it?".

Some other things: It should be fairly common, since the space pirates are on to our scheme. You can choose multiple things and select a thing at random to disguise as, if you have a way to do that. The better the disguise, the better.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by HDE 226868, Vincent Aug 26 '15 at 23:41

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ As a warship. Pirates tend to avoid those like the plague. $\endgroup$ – Monty Wild Aug 26 '15 at 1:53
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    $\begingroup$ How about disguising my ship as a multi gigawatt Xaser capable of vaporizing them at a range of one light second? Oh wait, this isn't a disguise at all..... $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Aug 26 '15 at 2:05
  • $\begingroup$ @MontyWild These are space pirates. $\endgroup$ – PyRulez Aug 26 '15 at 2:10
  • $\begingroup$ Earth... you want people to drop by/in all the time. $\endgroup$ – user6760 Aug 26 '15 at 2:26
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    $\begingroup$ This is really opinion based. $\endgroup$ – Vincent Aug 26 '15 at 22:52
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The obvious answer is a rock. You need to disguise as a rock of equal mass to your ship. Then gravity sensors would not show an anomaly that would attract attention. The rock panels would need to fit together very tightly, and be on insulated stilts to keep them space cold. That would do to trick the IR sensors. The inside/backside of your rock panels will need to reflect all energy signatures, effectively blinding you while you have the rock shell up. Being able to cover the 270 degrees of ship closest to the pirate's path is important. The reflected energy will exit the remaining 90 degrees (or less) like a search light or beacon, possibly warning other ships in that direction of the danger here.

This panelling is not retractable, only re arrangeable. Retracting it would bring it close to (or inside) your hull which would heat it up. Then when you deploy it you would be a lumpy bright spot on the IR sensors. You can only re arrange this panelling around the ship to keep it out of the way of you engines and sensors.

When you dock somewhere, the fact that your ship employs this camouflage will be easily visible to all, because it will be stacked up on its stilts around your ship. If the pirates watch you depart, calculate your path, and catch up, they can look for rocks of this size to find you. Obfuscation of your path will be necessary. However, not knowing they are looking for this kind of rock, most pirates do not circle every space rock along their path.

Security through obscurity; we use it on servers in cyber defence all the time.

Note Go to the linked IR Sensor pirate raid to see the hard-science reality-check answers crushing all hope ... if this were not worldbuilding.stackexchange.com and permitted to invent ideas.

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