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In cut scenes where the Normandy uses a Mass Relay it runs along side it, even the Conduit when the Mako used it shot upwards (however the Mako doesn't dive into the ground when arriving on the Citadel but this could be because they were Prothean not Reaper made).

I am wondering if the Relays aim themselves to the target Relay like a gun while the target Relay moves itself into alignment or if the "corridor" they create bends around so what enters the corridor ends up always running along side.

  • There seems to be some piloting skill involved with using the mass relays, either when entering the corridor and/or while in it. Joker, and Nihlus to a lesser extent, seemed impressed that the Normandy came out of FTL with a less than 1500k drift at Eden Prime. It may be up to the pilot to vector and orient the ship for the proper destination. – Xantec Jun 25 '14 at 16:43
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I've wondered the same thing, but I've never seen an in-universe answer to this question.

Some relays are in pairs and only point to each other (like the Omega 4 relay); so it would make sense if they always pointed to each other.

But there are some that can target multiple relays. I've never seen a discussion on the rules for how this works. Stellar drift would move relays (even paired ones) around, so I'm sure they have some kind of navigation system to make adjustments of some kind. I assume it would have to be physical alignment since it is FTL (faster than light) travel, not a wormhole.

I'm not sure how, in your example, the Mako changes orientation from start to finish. I guess if it entered while slightly rotating ever so slightly, by the time it reach the other end it could come out with another orientation. But I think that is the only example we've seen in Mass Effect where that happens. Maybe it was something special with that relay since it is built into the Citadel?

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    the Relay the Mako uses which is the Conduit was Prothean made so it may be an exception to how all other Relays work – Memor-X May 26 '14 at 22:02
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It's basically a semi-directional stationary slingshot. A gravitational slingshot. The angle(s) you come in at, the speed, the angle(s) you come out at, must all be calculated before a jump. Because if you miss by an inch, you miss by a few gazillion lightyears. Assuming it is not a standard gravity well like a celestial body (Round/globular) due to the shape of the relays, it limits what directions and receiving systems you can realistically aim at, which seems to be a Planned Hinderance (If we believe the Reavers built them as a way to manage sentients. "You go where we want you to go.").

In real life, this is done all the time. Well, as often as we need extra speed. Planets, moons, and asteroids have all been used for gravity assisted maneuvers. The math is difficult but can be done, the only limit is getting the spacecraft in the right spot at the right time, due to our slow no where near fraction of C propulsion methods.

Oh, and "If you pull the trigger on this, you're ruining someone's day somewhere and sometime. That is why you check your #$% targets! That is why you wait for the computer to give you a #$% firing solution! That is why, Serviceman Chung, we do not "eyeball it!" This is a weapon of mass destruction. You are not a cowboy shooting from the hip."

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