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The Race Probe Reaches Earth Today?

The Race Probe Reaches Earth Today? is an ASB What If posted by Jim Smitty and a short ASB Timeline based on the scenario by Pkmatrix. The scenario poses the question of how the world would react if the Race had sent a probe which arrived in Earth orbit in March 2013, and how the Race would react upon discovering just how advanced Earth was. Pkmatrix responded with a short timeline fleshing out the idea.

The original thread can read here.


Earth and Home, Humanity and the Race's respective homeworlds, in an alternate version of the Worldwar timeline.

Point of Divergence

Jim Smitty's original scenario suggested a Point of Diversion with OTL history on 12 March 2013, the day the Race's Probe reaches Earth. Pkmatrix expanded this to include a Point of Diversion 800 years earlier, when the Race chooses to engage in an extra eight centuries of debate before launching a probe to investigate Tosev 3. As a result, Earth's history continues undisturbed until January 2013, when astronomers first notice the Probe's approach.

Timeline of Events

Early 1991

After several centuries of debate, research, and construction, the Race launched a probe to investigate the Tosev system, 10 lightyears away from Home, after observations a millennium earlier suggested that Tosev's third planet could support life. The probe, 100 feet in length, is outfitted with the standard package of landers, orbiters, rovers, submersibles, and other observation devices required to evaluate whether or not the planet would be suitable for colonization.

January 2013

Astronomers in Chile and Hawaii spotted an Earth-crossing object, about 100 feet in length, which initial observations indicated had a greater than 1% chance of impacting the Earth on 12 March 2013. World leaders address the public to explain the seriousness of the matter, while proposed anti-asteroid countermeasures developed by the world's space agencies are hastily put into action. The stock market fluctuates violently, the Media starts to whip the public into a frenzy, and a minor panic ensues.

February 2013

NASA, Roscosmos, and the ESA announce that, after further observations, it appears that not only does the object, designated 2013 AT6, had a greater than 80% chance of impacting the South Pacific Ocean near Fiji on 12 March, it was also slowing down. The United Nations was called into Emergency Special Session, and during a closed session Dr. Mazlan Othman, the Director of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, revealed that astronomers now believed that 2013 AT6 may in fact be an extraterrestrial spacecraft. The UN General Assembly issued a binding resolution ordering all UN members to issue national States of Emergency - in effect, the Earth has declared an Emergency. The United States moved its military to DEFCON 3, while coordinating efforts with NATO, Russia, and China in preparing a military response to 2013 AT6.

March 2013

On Friday 1 March, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, joined by Presidents Obama, Putin, and Hu, issued a statement to the general public explaining the now accepted consensus that 2013 AT6 was an alien spacecraft - this information had already been leaked by the media several days earlier, creating a different sort of panic than the one already rampant for two months. 2013 AT6 entered the Earth-Moon system at about 0630 UTC on 12 March and settled into Low Earth Orbit, about 600 km above the Earth's surface. Almost immediately, the spacecraft began deploying smaller objects, which entered Earth orbit and the atmosphere around the world. Within a day, it became apparent that the objects were observations satellites and probes, not much different or more advanced than the probes NASA had been sending to Mars. The landers and rovers were quickly seized by the governments of countries they landed in, while observation drones were shot down by the world's air forces. Within a week, the only alien crafts still in operation were the main 100-foot long spacecraft and the satellites.

Efforts to communicate with the spacecraft were unsuccessful, and it appeared unresponsive across all radio bands.

April 2013

Most nations cancelled their states of emergency, the markets re-stabilized, and life began to resume as normal. The US, Russian, and Chinese Air Forces continued cooperation in observing the alien spacecrafts in orbit. It was noted that other than radio communications with the other satellites and attempts to hail the landers, the alien ship did not appear to communicating with anything or anyone outside the Earth-Moon system in any observable way.

June 2013

The Media reports that studies of the alien rovers had, thus far, revealed technology little, if any, more advanced than human technology. In fact, some of it seemed to be about 20 years behind contemporary technology.

September 2013

The Space Shuttle Endeavour, pulled out of mothballs back in January as apart of the response to 2013 AT6's approach, launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida with a crew of Americans and Russians on a mission to 2013 AT6 with the goal of making contact and, if possible, to capture one of the alien satellites. Upon catching up with 2013 AT6, two astronauts made the dangerous leap over to secure tethers. On a second spacewalk, two other astronauts discovered a hatch, but were unable to open it without forcing their way in. After receiving a go from Washington and Moscow, a third spacewalk was conducted: astronauts used a laser to cut their way through the hatch and into the interior of the spacecraft, which they found empty and airless. It was determined that 2013 AT6 was an enormous unmanned deep space probe, intended to survey the Earth for an unknown purpose. A brief survey of the ship's engines were made, and considering the radiation levels it was determined the power source was some sort of nuclear reactor. Unable to stay any longer, Endeavour returned to Earth with the intention to get her back up there within three months.

In secret, the American and Russian governments agreed that the next mission would specifically be to disable the ship's onboard engines and install a new propulsion system, so that they can keep the ship in orbit and continue studying the technology on board. While most of it appeared no different than the tech on the rovers, they wanted a closer look at the nuclear reactor and the propulsion system.

January 2014

A month later than planned, the Space Shuttle Endeavour was launched on a second mission to 2013 AT6. Using the American and Russian militaries' best guesses based on what was photographed during the previous mission, astronauts spent a week pulling apart the stern of the ship and snipping cables in an effort to disable the ship's primary propulsion. About halfway through the process, the ship's computer appeared to interpret their efforts as a serious malfunction, broadcast a powerful radio signal in the direction of the constellation Cetus, and began to deorbit itself. The astronauts evacuated the spacecraft just in time - 2013 AT6 broke up in Earth's atmosphere and fell into the South China Sea off Hainan Dao.

February 2014

The People's Liberation Army Navy located the wreckage of 2013 AT6, noting that the rear-third of the spacecraft - containing, most importantly, the power source and propulsion system - appeared more or less intact. The Chinese government declared their intention to recover the reactor and the propulsion system.

May 2014

NASA and Roscosmos issued a report concluding that the most likely target for 2013 AT6's radio broadcast, and thus likely origin, was Tau Ceti, 10 lightyears from Earth. Scrutiny of the Tau Ceti system is made a priority for the world's space agencies.

Late 2017

Astronomers from the Indian Astronomical Observatory in Ladakh, India confirm the existence Tau Ceti e, considered the most likely candidate for 2013 AT6's homeworld.

Early 2019

Scientists at the Arecibo Observatory broadcast a carefully composed signal at Tau Ceti, in an effort to make contact with the aliens that sent 2013 AT6. The broadcast was highly controversial, but considering the technology aboard the probe seemed overall nearly 30 years behind contemporary Earth technology, the risk was considered acceptable by the US government. Regardless, the US was criticized around the world for unilaterally making this decision.

Early 2022

A specially-built planet finding satellite took the first picture of Tau Ceti e, confirming that the planet was habitable, although it didn't seem to have a particulary friendly habitat consider its dryness. Regardless, it was by now widely believed Tau Ceti e was the aliens' planet.

Mid 2024

The distress signal from the probe reaches Home. The Race's scientists are baffled, as the broadcast only provides a summary of “malfunctions” aboard the ship and some of the data that had been collected (no photos or video, just observations on atmospheric and soil composition), but no further explanation. The Race's space agency begins debating whether or not to send a second probe, a process not expected to come to a conclusion for another 30 years (60 Earth years). In the best case scenario, it was hoped a second probe could be dispatched to Earth in 50 years (100 Earth years, about 2124) to recover the photos and videos on the rovers.

Mid 2029

A second, completely unexpected and indecipherable signal, was suddenly detected originating from the Tosev system. The Race's space agency was, again, baffled and began researching all the possible explanations to this incident.

Late 2029

The Chinese National Space Administration, having successfully reconstructed and reverse engineered 2013 AT6's propulsion system, launched the world's first interstellar space probe, based in design off of 2013 AT6 (rebuilt and improved to contemporary human standards, of course). Able to travel at half the speed of light, the probe was expected to reach Tau Ceti e by 2051.

Early 2051

Panic ensues on Home when an unknown alien spacecraft suddenly arrives and settles into Low Orbit around the planet. It then begins deploying satellites, rovers, and aircraft - exactly as one of their unmanned probes would, except for two key differences: first, the technology appears overall more advanced; second, the ship seems to constantly be broadcasting a signal out of the Home system…toward Tosev.

The 37th Emperor Risson, ordered the capture of the alien technology and for his scientists to study it in an effort to determine how much more advanced the Tosevites were. Assuming that the Tosevites likely did not advance technologically or move politically any faster than themselves, he did not issue any orders to rush the study - it was assumed they would have centuries to prepare if the Tosevites intended to colonize them.

Mid 2063

The first images and data from the Chinese probe reached Earth, making global headlines with the confirmation that this was the alien homeworld - but, even moreso, shocking the world with how far behind the aliens appeared to be. All indications were that Tau Cetans - a race of bipedal lizard-like creatures with chameleon eyes - were technologically no more advanced than the late 20th century or early 21st century, with their most advanced-looking pieces of hardware in 2051 appearing 30 years behind contemporary tech in 2063. This baffled analysts, who were confused as to why the Tau Cetans seemed no more advanced than they were 50 years earlier.

Based on the observations of the Chinese probe and considering advances in both cryogenics, energy, and space propulsion since 2029, it was decided a manned international mission to Tau Ceti would be launched.

Mid 2070

The Christopher Columbus, the world's first interstellar manned spaceship, was launched with a crew of 14 humans and an AI on a mission to Tau Ceti. For defense, the ship was provided with a complement of ASATs and Earth-Space UCAVs, considered more than adequate considering the astronauts were on a peaceful mission.

Late 2092

First Contact.

timelines/the_race_probe_reaches_earth_today.txt · Last modified: 2016/08/05 20:48 by petike