Dominion World- location of the Signal Lamp Incident

Gripler signal lamp
Image from Steve Bowers
The solar power collection bubble over the north pole of the star in the Gripler system was equipped with a series of vents that could be opened to allow a solar flare to pass through without causing damage. By deliberately opening and closing these vents the marooned colonists in this system were able to send a coded signal to the closest colony in this direction.

Gripler - Data Panel

SystemGD 80008751
Stellar TypeG8 v2
Distance from Sol2998 ly
Diameter12191 km
Date Colonised7022 AT
Diameter of statite array3.5 million km
Massapprox 14 billion tonnes

Deep in the Perseus rift, the relativistic explorer I'm Leaving You To Find My Fortune decelerated into a promising system, GD 80008751, with a G8 v star. There was one terrestrial world, a cool eogaian which they named Gripler. The Displacement Drive ship had an S:2 level Artificial Intelligence, but had left its only microwormhole link behind at the previous new colony six light years back, now named Station Stanley.

The first task of the colonists was to activate an autonomous construction swarm, which collected asteroid material and built a light-supported statite cap over the north pole of the star, 3.5 million kilometres in diameter but massing as much as a medium-sized asteroid. A second cap over the south pole would be constructed later. When the northern statite cap was nearly completed, they discovered that the colony ship I'm Leaving You To Find My Fortune had, indeed, left them - it had stealthily departed the system for an unknown destination. Apparently this ship had been implicated in a memecomplex scandal back at Fons Luminis and feared the wrath of the Sun Emperor. After wandering the nearby stellar systems for several decades, the ship plunged into a superjovian planet and was presumably destroyed.

The crew and colonists were now marooned on Gripler, and much of their colony support kit was inoperable since they did not have access to its control systems. Only a few systems could be controlled directly by the colonists, and those were mostly of limited usefulness.

Above the North Stellar pole the statite power collector array continued to spread out like a thin parachute, with the constructing swarm incorporating itself into the fabric to provide active control and operate the vents that permitted high speed solar storm winds to pass through when necessary. Statites are very thin and very light, with a mass of 0.78g per square metre (for a Sun-like star). This system was one of the very few which could be controlled manually by the colonists without AI assistance.

After a while enough energy had been accumulated to send UV laser distress signals to Station Stanley on the icy worlds of the Brown Dwarf GD80007657. Unfortunately the signals were not detected, as the sensitive interferometer detectors required for laser communication had not been built there yet.

The cryocyborg colonists at Stanley were presently surprised to see the nearby star Gripler blinking a message in binary code at them, describing the plight of the 'My Fortune expedition. Extending the light-collecting parachute until it covered the whole disk of the star as seen from Stanley, the marooned crew used the solar storm facility to open and close the myriad vents in the million kilometre wide sheet and send their desperate message.

The Gripler Binary Signal Lamp is now a standard emergency signalling procedure in these circumstances.

Appears in Topics
Development Notes
Text by Steve Bowers
Initially published on 16 September 2002.