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In episode 11 of season 7 of TNG, the story takes place around the Argus Array, a subspace telescope reprogramed to observe several Federation sites: DS5, Starbase 47, the Iadara Colony, and the Utopia Planitia Shipyards. The problem with using this to spy is that

  • Argus to DS5 = 28 ly
  • Argus to Starbase 47 = 17 ly
  • Argus to Iadara Colony = 5 ly
  • Argus to Utopia Planitia (Mars) = 71 ly

Why would a hostile race use a telescope that gives data at least 5 years old?

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    For the record, deciphering WWII communications (from 1944) revealed a spy operating in the 1980s. Old data is still very much useful – Valorum Aug 15 '17 at 0:27
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The Argus Array is a subspace telescope, capable of imaging far objects in near realtime. Its observations are not restricted to the speed of light.

The Enterprise hovering in front of the ARGUS ARRAY. It is a huge subspace radio telescope -- a series of panels, resembling several very long box-kites stacked one on top of the other. It looks absolutely immense.

The Nth Degree - Original Script

Taking into account the speed at which messages can propagate through subspace (Warp 9.997 / 183,000 times the speed of light), the pictures would only be a few seconds out of date.

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