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I just realized 1 problem with 2 shifts on the generation ship. My aliens when they wake up, bask in the infrared for up to 4 hours. Even the robots that they have can't compensate for 4 hours of basking. But it needs to be driven all the time to make sure there are no collisions and gravity doesn't pull them into a star or giant planet or stellar remnant. The only thing I can think of to solve this is more time awake and less time asleep so that 1 shift of aliens starts basking while the previous shift is still working.

But is there any other solution to this problem with aliens basking for up to 4 hours and the generation ship constantly driven?

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  • $\begingroup$ A note: infrared is basically heat. It's not especially energetic, nothing like ultraviolet or gamma radiation. Your assumption that the robots can't survive some extra heat seems decidedly flawed: if it was hot enough to cause significant problems with the standard metal robot (warping, structural integrity loss, etc.), temperatures would be long past the boiling point of water. If your aliens live in that level of heat on a regular basis without protection, they're not likely to bear any resemblance to life as we know it, because they probably won't be using water in any way. $\endgroup$ – Palarran Nov 19 '16 at 17:00
  • $\begingroup$ I am not saying that robots can't survive extra heat, Rather I am saying that they can't drive the generation ship for 4 hours. And with scaly skin but mostly mammal characteristics, basking in heat is required, especially since metal(which the generation ship is made of mostly) is colder than body temperature. $\endgroup$ – Caters Nov 19 '16 at 17:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Caters, why? It seems perfectly reasonable to me that a cold-blooded species might heat some or all of their ship to near-body-temperature. Metal isn't colder than the environment, it just feels cold because it conducts heat away faster than air or many other substances. Leave a piece of metal jewelry on your body for a while and it won't be cold. $\endgroup$ – Matthew May 1 at 20:36
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humans usually work in 3-4 shifts in situations where something has to be manned constantly, so adding one more shift is not that big of a deal.

that said heated underwear might help them out a lot. they can bask while doing things.

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  • $\begingroup$ Underwear would need to be like long johns. Not skimpy nighties. $\endgroup$ – Willk May 4 at 0:18
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Bask in place

The only critical task you've highlighted (one that can't go unattended or robot-operated for four hours) is piloting/navigation. Those are stationary activities.

Naturally, the cockpit/control deck/wherever the aliens do their piloting and navigation from have infrared lamps installed over each of the critical positions. When the shift changes, the incoming crew member smacks the "basking" button, the infrared comes on and warms them up as they begin their shift and do their duties. After a four hour timer, the lamps shut off, until of course the first crew comes back on the next day and smacks the button for their basking-at-work session.

If modesty is an issue, and the aliens need full-body basking (i.e. no clothes), there are two options:

  1. The aliens have developed an infrared-transparent fabric. It may not be the most comfortable, but for these crew duties, it allows for appropriate modesty while basking at their station.

  2. The cockpit or control deck is isolated from the rest of the ship, at least visually. When the critical crew comes in for their shift, they strip down so they can bask while working. The furniture will be made of materials that are more comfortable against bare skin/scales and easier to sanitize, and the crew will each understand that their work situation requires them to be naked on the control deck and will thus forego normal societal modesty while working.

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