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I just watched "Court Martial" in which Kirk is accused of negligence, resulting in the death of a crew member. Said crew member had to report to an "ion pod" to take readings during an ion storm, and the pod had to be jettisoned in order to save the ship.

What purpose did the ion pod serve, i.e. why did the crewman have to be in it during the storm?

And why did the pod have to be jettisoned?

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It's a plot device. – Keith Thompson Feb 6 '14 at 1:04
Duh... It's a forgone conclusion that this is the answer to every single "why" question on the site. – Matt Feb 6 '14 at 16:03
Sure. My point is that this one is, IMHO, a particularly blatant one. – Keith Thompson Feb 6 '14 at 17:03
@KeithThompson Fair enough – Matt Feb 6 '14 at 22:23
up vote 4 down vote accepted

In the remastered "Court Martial", the Ion pod is shown as being mounted near the rear of the main body of the ship. It is described by Memory Alpha as a;

"Sensory component of Constitution-class starships...deployed in times when a starship was expected to encounter an ion storm...

Manually operated by one crewmember, the pod took readings (from "ion plates") that were otherwise not available to conventional sensors in the course of the storm."

Ion Pod replacement

As far as the reason why the pod had to be able to be jettisoned, Hanson tells Kirk that the pod is causing;

"Natural vibrations, force two, Captain....Force three."

at which point it seems to be standard practice to eject the pod, presumably to prevent the vibrations from causing damage to the hull of the ship.

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The pod was a place to mount the instruments to measure the ion storm without having to drill holes in the skin and armor of the ship.

The crewmember had to be present to run the tests. Star Trek wasn't big on automation.

The pod had to be ejected because, IIRC, it was picking up a charge and was becoming a danger to the ship as a whole. The crewmember was given warning to get out - but when the court martial trial read back the records, the warning was not in the recording!

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