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Why does Galactica choose to jump so frakking close to planets?

The show often describes jump destinations as in orbit or worse, low orbit. This seems like a dangerous and risky maneuver and one that endangers the entire human race. Why don't they choose safer jump coordinates?

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What is the point of space travel without a little danger? – Jack B Nimble Jan 17 '13 at 22:58
+1 for frakking – Coomie Jan 18 '13 at 3:46
up vote 24 down vote accepted

Orbital bodies can be predicted, you can theoretically map out where major celestial bodies should be. Orbital bodies also have gravity wells that do a fair job of cleaning up space debris that may be out there. Chances are if you jump to a planet you will not be hit by a asteroid.

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I hadn't considered the dangers of not jumping near a planet. This was enlightening. – ken.ganong Jan 18 '13 at 15:14
To be fair, John O has a pretty excellent answer as well – Pyrodante Jan 18 '13 at 15:56
Unless you were to jump to a planet like Earth that is surrounded by hundreds, or even thousands of satellites, spacecraft, space stations, etc. – BBlake Jan 18 '13 at 21:26
given the fact they have the precision to jump into a docking position of a space station, as long as they are within the known regions they should be pretty safe. – Pyrodante Jan 19 '13 at 0:52

Powering out of and into orbits would require enormous amounts of conventional fuel. If you can just blip exactly to where you need to be, this could amount to incredible fuel savings.

Not that I want my answer to sound like a bad television commercial.

Space is tough. Space is expensive. You have to be miserly with mass and fuel.

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Fuel? Galactica needs fuel? Has this ever been addressed in the series? – Martin Schröder Jan 18 '13 at 17:23
Only the FTL fuel. They glossed over the others. – John O Jan 18 '13 at 17:33
The series bible, which can be found and located online (but is, technically, illegal to download) states (or so I've been told) that the focus was on the characters, NOT the technology, so every effort was to be made to NOT discuss technical issues and make the story more about the people. Considering that Ron Moore came from Star Trek: The Next Generation (aka "The Source of Technobabble"), this is understandable. But their need for tylium is addressed in one episode. – Tango Jan 20 '13 at 4:05
Also, there is one other issue to consider. I don't know if any momentum is preserved in an FTL jump, but with orbit, the vectors would be important. Come out of a jump and do nothing, and you'll get pulled to the planet, even if you're in a good orbit. So they probably have ways to figure that into the jump as well. – Tango Jan 20 '13 at 4:06

Quite frankly when it comes to making action science fiction, science will be kicked to the curb in order to provide more dramatic visuals. This I really don't have a problem with given that the tech involved is so improbable, what's one more minor kibbet to worry about?

Also keep in mind that there really isn't that much in science that supports this sort of Jump Drive on the macro level. There's tunneling that's theorized in mathematical models on the quantum level, but the key thing is it IS at the quantum level, very few things on that level translate directly to the macro world.

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