I recently bought Planet of Judgment, a book in the Star Trek - The Original Series universe. It begins with Captain Kirk and the others (Bones, Spock, ...) getting stranded on a rogue planet and not being able to communicate with the Enterprise. However, they find a way by making some symbols which can be seen through a kind of telescope from the Enterprise. These are the symbols and their meaning:

Image of the book

Have these symbols ever occurred (or re-occurred) in a Star Trek series (I only saw TOS and TAS) or are they just the imagination of the writer?

1 Answer 1


I bought that when it first came out (yes, I'm that old) and wondered about that. Of course, we didn't have the internet back then so I just took it on faith.

As it happens, they are real.

I don't recall them ever coming up again but they do seem to conform to actual symbols adopted by the Civil Aeronautics Administration in the mid-20th Century.

Google Books copy of Popular Science April 1948

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..and here's another from what is, apparently, a PSK 2 USN issue medical/ emergency kit probably from the early 1960s

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As it happens the author, Joe Haldeman (that Joe Haldeman) served as a combat engineer in Vietnam so there's a good chance he would have had personal knowledge of these.

  • 1
    That looks very promising! The first one is an exact copy, the second one is almost the same (and I presume the S is just a way to make clear that the shuttles are damaged) and the third one is almost an exact copy but I presume that the tilde works as a negative symbol.
    – Noosrep
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 8:55
  • Any idea what the thinking was behind the "+" sign? It makes sense that the real-world references don't use it, since it would look the same as an "X" from the air. It seems odd that the author would choose it. Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 12:35
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    @JohnWalthour Give the deciphered meaning, I would interpret it as a cross, not as a plus sign. Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 12:39
  • Ahhh that'd do it Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 13:39

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