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In DS9: Afterimage Ezri Dax is suffering from a bout of 'space sickness' and asks Sisko if Chief O'Brien can slow down the spinning of the station.

EZRI: Do you think the chief could adjust the inertial dampers so the station would spin a little slower?

Within the Star Trek universe, artificial gravity seems under control to the point of being completely taken for granted, so why does DS9 spin? Do all space stations spin?

  • 5
    I always took this line to be facetious, akin to "Bartender, could you make the room spin a little slower?" – Eric Towers Oct 30 '16 at 14:41
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    @EricTowers - The script makes it clear that she's literally sensing the motion of the station. – Valorum Oct 30 '16 at 14:48
  • @EricTowers I think it's more like a seasick passenger on a boat asking if the crew can have it rock a little less - she knows it does spin, even if her perception of it is imagined. – colmde May 16 '17 at 8:45
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According to the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Technical Manual the rotation was driven by four factors:

  • To control the rotation imparted by the processes of docking and undocking spaceships.

  • To control the additional centrifugal force imparted by transferring ore from the processing centre (at the middle of the station) to docked ships at the outer pylons.

    The internal skeletal structure provides only 22 percent, the remaining 8 percent being derived from the EPS conduit field effect, which acts as a crude structural integrity field (SIF) system.

    While some Starfleet engineers have looked upon this area as over-designed, it has worked exceedingly well for the Cardassians. especially in the pylons' ability to damp out lateral and rotational forces imparted by both docking space vessels and large moving masses within the pylons.

  • To provide thermal control, so that half of the station isn't permanently in darkness and the other half permanently in light (thus preventing one side from overheating).

    For example, a continuing topic for debate centers around the reason ops and the commander's window are aligned on a vector that seems to relate to no other symmetrical division, 30 degrees away from the ops- Pylon 3 centerline and 30 degrees away from the ops-Pylon 1 centerline. The most plausible explanation involves the mechanics of Terok Nor's synchronous orbit about Bajor and the thermal control rotation of the station.

  • There's also the suggestion that the need for a rotational period may be somewhat driven by the desire to have Cardassia Prime in view at all times from the Prefect's office.

    A possible correlation exists in which Cardassia Prime and its parent star would be visible through the window center at all times.

  • Interestingly, only the first of the four factors should still play a role once the station has become Bajoran and moved near the wormhole. – O. R. Mapper Oct 30 '16 at 12:08
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    @O.R.Mapper - The third reason (thermal control) would also still be relevant. On top of that, the station may have been designed with rotation in mind, so perhaps systems involving fluids (such as waste control) and elements that need to be pointed (like directional scanners) are also now reliant on there being a rotational period. – Valorum Oct 30 '16 at 13:21
  • "The third reason (thermal control) would also still be relevant." - the series is somewhat vague on how far the station is from Bajor, but several times during the show, the travel between Bajor and DS9 takes several hours. Assuming that those are hours at Warp, DS9 is most probably far away for the Bajoran sun that "half of the station isn't permanently in darkness and the other half permanently in light" would be irrelevant. – O. R. Mapper Oct 30 '16 at 14:40
  • "perhaps systems involving fluids (such as waste control) and elements that need to be pointed (like directional scanners) are also now reliant on there being a rotational period" - that sounds like a possible fifth, so far unlisted (but also unstated in canon material) reason. – O. R. Mapper Oct 30 '16 at 14:45
  • @O.R.Mapper - My (albeit inexpert) understanding is that thermal control applies pretty much anywhere up to the orbit of Jupiter. The sun might not be very bright from that distance, but it still packs a punch. – Valorum Oct 30 '16 at 14:46
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It is not gravitational

We can be quite sure that the station is not spinning for the purpose of creating gravity, because the final scene of "What You Leave Behind" zooms out of an upper Promenade window into space, and clearly shows that the floor is oriented towards the "bottom" of the station rather than towards the outside. Spinning would not create gravity in the correct orientation.

I imagine the station rotates at a leisurely pace. This would reduce unwanted inertial forces (including centrifugal and Coriolis effects) while still providing a degree of gyroscopic stability to the station's orientation. This would avoid requiring the use of thrusters for manual attitude control.

  • Another reason it can't be gravitational -- the station in some scenes appears to move laterally/parallel to the direction of the floor. Were the rotation (in the center of the station assumedly) for gravity, then the station would need to move parallel to the gravitational plane else movement would interfere with the field and people walking. Kind of like a train accelerating while you're standing up. – RoboBear Jul 9 '18 at 23:09

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