In the first episode of Terra Nova, it's mentioned that Terra Nova is able to communicate with the future. However, it was established earlier that going through the time schism is a one-way trip, and that you go to the past of a parallel Earth. So they shouldn't be able to send messages back through, nor can they leave time capsules with messages inside to communicate with the future. So how are they able to send messages back to the future?

  • Wait, so the earth they go to 65,000,000 years in the past is a different dimension? Sep 27, 2011 at 2:44
  • @OghmaOsiris They explained it as being a divergent timestream, so what they do in the past can't affect the present that they left.
    – user1027
    Sep 27, 2011 at 3:21
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    So which future are they communicating with? The one they left or the one they're making?
    – Xantec
    Sep 27, 2011 at 3:37
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    I wondered this too - my guesses: Maybe going back to the future is only a policy decision and not a technological limitation. Or maybe the facility in the past can't generate enough energy to create a portal big enough for people to go through, but enough to send communications through.
    – Nate
    Sep 27, 2011 at 13:21
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    @Xantec Presumably the one they left.
    – user1027
    Sep 27, 2011 at 14:05

9 Answers 9


The IMBD FAQ page for Terra Nova has the following -

How can the commander communicate with the alternate 2149 if it's a one way portal and in a different timeline?

According to creator Craig Silverstein, the commander can communicate with the people in 2149 only while the portal is open . Only while it is open can he order more supplies, communicate info back and forth. The main drawback with this is that if he orders medical supplies, he has to wait till the next opening to get them.

(So, does this mean the trip isn't really 'one-way'?)

  • 8
    Probably like a Stargate...
    – dkuntz2
    Oct 5, 2011 at 0:51
  • We can add to that now. In What Remains there's a comment from Mira that indicates it may be possible to send messages at other times, but that Taylor doesn't realize that yet.
    – Tango
    Oct 23, 2011 at 15:23

It hasn't been described in show yet but my guess will be that they are following the same rules of Stargate in which the wormholes are one way traveling for solid objects but radio waves can travel two ways.


It's a massive plot hole.

There's no way for them to know.

Even if they did have some sort of inter-dimensional communication device that was time delivered 85 million years later -- there is no way to tell the future that was what they needed and have it sent back to Terra Nova in the first place so they can set it up.

In fact, there is no way for the future to even know where/when these probes and people are being sent.

Essentially, the first team had to have been sent over blind. But there's no way for them to tell anyone what they found and what supplies they need because it was a one-way ticket.

So, every single transport sent over was sent over not knowing what was on the other side of the rift, if anything at all. In fact, they can't even be sure they weren't sending these people into a rift that simply killed them.


There is no reason the temporal anomaly could not transmit radio waves back and forth across the cross-time region. This could potentially explain how communication is done in a fashion similar to radio transmissions across wormhole horizons in the Stargate franchise. Energy would not have the same limitations matter would have crossing between universes.

  • +1 for referencing Saga of the Pliocene Exiles... one of my favorite series!
    – Beofett
    Oct 2, 2011 at 23:24
  • One of my favorite series, ever. This show wants to be that good. Oct 4, 2011 at 2:39
  • > To be fair, 85 million years is a long time and it is unlikely anything these people could do or create would likely survive into any possible future. You know, except there being a advanced human civilization 85 million years ago. How long have humans been around?
    – Rob
    Oct 6, 2011 at 15:27
  • Human civilizations, if we count the our Cro-Magnon cousins, we have existed on Earth for a little over 2 million years. Pre-history would be 40,000 years, and History would be generously considered 15,000 to 20,000 years ago. So if we use our current history as a reference, 85,000,000 years would be 40 times as long as we have existed on Earth today. Oct 7, 2011 at 2:31
  • Why did you remove most of your answer?
    – Junuxx
    Jul 15, 2016 at 8:22

Please notice the way they discovered --the so called-- "Terra Nova":

First they lost the discovery satellite, then they followed up the signals and they then determined that where their satellite landed (or crashed) was not a different planet, but the earth in past (but in different time stream).

That means that the anomaly through which this satellite passed is permanent, so they can track down signals from it.

In my humble opinion, that explains everything.

Also, as shown in the last episode, Mira has a communication device and she receives commands from her peers in future.


I believe that the issue of supplies and weapons etc. could be solved via predictability. You know on one pilgrimage they send x number of people with nx supplies and weapons. And as the x increases they just send that much more supplies and weapons.

  • but the problem of recommendations by the commander of terra nova is a big plot hole. Nov 4, 2011 at 2:38

Don't be silly. The two parties, the future and the past can easily agree on scribbling something on some stones or, more probable, some techy solution they have in Terra Nova, and the recipients (the future) could read/watch it. So, ask a question on a (metaphorical) stone, get a reply back with the next recruit.

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    This has been explicitly mentioned to not work, by virtue of divergent timestreams. They could also be wrong about this somehow (i.e. someone in the past is actively sabotaging all attempts) but they've tried it to no results.
    – user1030
    Dec 13, 2011 at 23:41

I was asking the same question too. Perhaps it could be like the time rift in Julian May's Pliocene Saga. In those books, people can pass through a rift in time to 6 million years earlier safely but they cannot return; if they stay in the time rift when it "recycles" they return to their present and take on an age of 6 million years and rematerialize as fossils or ash. Some substances like amber and platinum can be sent back without being destroyed. Perhaps this could be the same idea behind the Terra Nova portal?


There's no reason to assume the anomaly itself does not allow bidirectional travel. When the portal to the past was shown in the pilot, it was in a building with two extremely large circular buildings on either side of the portal building, giving the impression it was between two cyclotrons or something similar.

There were one or two comments that indicated the original anomaly itself was small and the implication is that it takes massive amounts of energy to open the gateway so people can be sent through (and note they are sent through one at a time, indicating there are either safety issues or that the more mass that goes through, the more of a strain on the system it is).

So there's no reason to assume it takes high amounts of energy to access the anomaly, it just takes high amounts of energy to send large chunks of matter through it. So radio waves and possibly even tiny pieces of media might be quite feasible for Terra Nova to send back to the future in the timestream from which they came.

(But that also raises the question -- just as there was originally only two stargates, but eventually it was found the original gate could access other gates, is it possible that one could access other timestreams through that same anomaly?)

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