4546B Planetology

KellvenKellven Join Date: 2019-01-10 Member: 248453Members Posts: 2 Fully active user
Started over in Below Zero for the Sea Truck update, picked up the "Profile: Research Station Zero" data thingy, something caught my eye. "2 kilometers of ocean, located near the planet's equator".
If I pieced it together correctly so far, Robin is "on a large ice cap in the west" (of the equatorial Station Zero).
If I'm just spoiling a piece of plot for later, please just delete this post. If it's just an oversight, pass along to someone doing databank writing so they can nip it before it gets forgotten again.

If however, this is correct, and we have a polar ice cap intact at an equatorial latitude (that isn't caused by aliens), I'm going crosseyed trying to figure out the orbital mechanics of how that could possibly exist.
Just collecting some metrics about 4546B:

-My rig is crap, so I have to play on low, and don't really see the sun properly, but I had the vague impression it moved in a general east west kind of deal, or was it backwards?

-I think it's safe to assume the first game is using magnetic north which aligns generally with spin axis north.

-The first game sort of implied achieving orbit was difficult energetically, which I believe would mean the correct ascent path would be toward the sunrise side equator, so as to gain the planets spin velocity instead of fighting it, or being weird with a polar orbit. The Ice region also appeared to be generally in line with the ascent if I remember, supporting the equatorial idea.

-AFAIK, the only ways to get localized ice regions with liquid water are
a) Artificially lower the local temperature.
b) A massive chemical anomaly yields a geologic scale endothermic reaction that somehow goes on for at least a milennium.
c) The area is consistently either shielded from the primary star, or near the planetary axis perpendicular to the solar orbit plane. That's problematic if it's equatorial, as the planet spin axis would have to point through the star, and I would think would yield a ring of ice, rather than a cap, and the dark half of the planet would be even colder.

I'm going crosseyed again, spatial reasoning isn't my thing, so I'm going to stop and see if anyone else has something to say about it.

Oh, right. If the planet is sideways, and the spin & magnetic axes are pointed through the star, those are the weak points in a planetary magnetosphere. Would expect constant terrifying auroras at the very least, almost certain constant radiation sufficient to EMP unhardened electronics, if not outright fry anything on the surface. I'm not entirely sure, but I suspect it would also be enough to let the solar wind strip any normal planet of it's atmosphere & oceans.


  • Muninn_CrowMuninn_Crow Join Date: 2018-02-27 Member: 238401Members Posts: 24 Advanced user
    edited September 2019
    I had a similar thought when I came upon that entry. I imagine the planet must be like Uranus, which has a rotation axis of 60 degrees. It would roll along its orbit like a ball on a track. This could allow for the equatorial region to have a more vertical path, while still receiving a more... normal amount of sunlight. Combined with polar ocean currents sweeping through the specific region, the temperature could easily drop towards arctic norms instead of the typical tropical climate.

    The equivalent location on Earth would be around the Horn of Africa, or the Strait of Magellan in South America's southernmost point. Both are close to the Antarctic, and receive cold, antarctic waters.

    To account for the short days on the planet, Saturn has a rotation of nearly 11 hours, and Neptune at about 16 hours. The only problem is that the gas giants rotate far quicker than the terrestial planets, and often the smaller they are, the longer they take to rotate. 4546b may have a similar rotation speed, due to its unique orbit or other contributing factors. Perhaps the two moons play a role in its rotation?

    I imagine the rotation axis is about 60 degrees, allowing for a full day-night cycle for both Sector Zero and the Crater. This would allow the Crater to receive the majority of the sunlight, keeping it warm and tropical, and Sector Zero to exist on a more polar-oriented equator.

    This could be a fun project to model out.
  • MaalterommMaalteromm Brasil Join Date: 2017-09-22 Member: 233183Members Posts: 537 Advanced user
    It is most certainly alien tech.

    I can't imagine natural conditions that could give rise to such small frozen regions near the equator.
    It also helps refering to the ending cutscene of the original game, which shows a large portion of the planet surface.
  • Muninn_CrowMuninn_Crow Join Date: 2018-02-27 Member: 238401Members Posts: 24 Advanced user
    Which is why I imagined it for you. ;)

    I do think it'd be a blast to model, though.
  • MoWMoW 4546B Join Date: 2019-03-19 Member: 251841Members Posts: 68 Advanced user
    I think the postion (degrees)of 4546B in his System is more our Planet Uranus.
  • MaalterommMaalteromm Brasil Join Date: 2017-09-22 Member: 233183Members Posts: 537 Advanced user
    Which is why I imagined it for you. ;)

    I do think it'd be a blast to model, though.
    Exoplanet modelling is really cool, but I know few places which work with it.
    I also know little about other planets, and lack formal education on it. I'm just a curious amateur in the subject.

    I expect that such configuration, with planetary rotation akin to Uranus, would lead to extreme summer/winter in the poles for nearly half of the year, and a ring of ice as @Kellven "c" topic. Then for another half of the year the equator would rotate in the approximate direction of the sun and lead to something more akin to "earth-like" weather.
    But that wouldn't explain localized ice regions (which I don't know if it is the case for research station zero).

    My guess is that the devs focus is on the underwater experience, not bothering much about planetary physics.
    For instance, the endgame cutscene I mentioned earlier clearly shows the planet below it and, after a while, the star rises in the planet horizon. It should be night if the sun was behind the planet and not much of the surface should be visible until the sun had risen. Just watch any video of sunrise from space.
    The sunrise in the game cutscene was still beautifully done.

    The ice sheet we see from space is another story, it is was deliberately exposed right before the rocket engaged full hyperdrive wormhole jumping speed.
    I don't know how intentional was the star position in the moment this ice sheet was revealed, but it was sitting almost straightly below the star.

    My take is simple, since the rest of the visible planet appeared to have liquid water on the surface and then a, relatively, small ice sheet was shown it was clearly designed to feel unnatural. I would go with either alien tech (precursors) or mysterious alien powers (4546B unique fauna).
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