I was playing Mass Effect the other day. I learned that the Normandy doesn't use cloaking technology; instead of turning invisible it uses something in its hull to mask the ship on sensors.

The only way the Normandy could be detected is if someone looks out of the window and sees it, but in space it would be difficult as the Normandy would literally have to be right next to a ship in order for someone to see it though a window.

In Star Trek, since the Federation can't use cloaking technology, couldn't they use something similar to the Normandy?

  • You mean something like a ECM suit to block sensors? – Moridin Feb 22 '16 at 8:53
  • Yeah something like that. – illage4 Feb 22 '16 at 8:54
  • It would not be impossible, but I don't think the Federation really thinks like that. After all they never considered using bullets against the Borg. The only Sci-Fi series that uses ECM that I can remember is Babylon 5. – Moridin Feb 22 '16 at 8:59
  • I'm putting this in the comments because I am too lazy to verify. To the best of my knowledge, we do not know the full contents and specific wording of the charter where the federation agrees not to develop cloaking technology. However, gives that they developed tech which allowed them to phase through solid matter and as a side effect "cloaked" them and it was seen as violative, it seems that the definition of cloaking is taken fairly broadly and seriously. – Broklynite Feb 22 '16 at 9:23
  • They use holographics, fake warp signatures and "sensor deflection" on several occasions. Is that the sort of thing you're taking about? – Valorum Feb 22 '16 at 9:58

From at technological stand point:

The Normandy's primary cloaking technology is heat sinks that keep it from giving off broad/no EM fields in the infrared. That is however just a tiny sliver of the radiation that a starship would emit. You would have radio wave noise from just the flow of electricity to effects of the ship on space itself (gravity). Your would have to find a system that would cover all these effect, the "cloaking device" from Star Trek does that is a tidy package. The Normandy's suggested cloaking device just covers a tiny portion of the issues that need to be addressed.

So would it possible to building new systems that are not the "hand waving" solution presented by the canonical cloaking device? Sure. But we move on to other matters...

From a philosophical standpoint:

A goal of the Federation has been to foster peace in the galactic neighbourhood. Being closed off, sneaky in both governing and operations through the use of cloaking devices would not facilitate in achieving your goal. Though as noted in the comments there are exceptions, though I would consider tactical advantages from the environment while being hunted isn't wrong.

With nothing to particularly cite, I would motion that any explicit hiding of a ship's normal operational output would be considered cloaking and in violation of Treaty of Algeron regardless of what technology you use. However, any advancement, like Voyager's neural-gel packs, or light-based communication that decreases a ship's EM signature would not be cloaking.

  • 2
    I would try to expand your middle paragraph somehow and excise the rest, which are comments that do not actually answer the question being asked... – Praxis Feb 22 '16 at 16:32
  • Structured by answer better, perhaps the answer does cover the OP's question? Sure they could use other technology, but it is the principle of not using it, that seems to be the important point. – RomaH Feb 22 '16 at 16:55
  • It's a lot better now. :-) – Praxis Feb 22 '16 at 16:57

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