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Debris from the destroyed Earth Outpost Station 4 in 2266

Debris of a destroyed planet

Debris in an ancient underspace subspace corridor

Debris of a destroyed Borg cube

"Now this is how I prefer the Borg. In pieces."
– Captain Janeway, 2375 ("Dark Frontier")

Debris was a term for scattered materials, either natural or artificial, both in a habitable environment as in space. Spaceborne debris in particular might potentially be concentrated in a debris field or debris cloud. An asteroid field might be identified as "asteroidal debris", while cometary debris also existed. Debris might also be referred to as flotsam, rubble, wreckage, space debris (if spaceborne) or colloquially as "space junk" (TAS: "The Pirates of Orion") or "space dust". (TAS: "The Practical Joker")

Debris fields might also come in the form of a waste zone, where people would abandon their waste in space. One such zone was located near the Caretaker's array. (VOY: "Caretaker")

The destruction of a spacecraft usually left debris, to the point that a lack thereof was considered puzzling or even impossible. (TNG: "The Outcast", "Final Mission", "Where Silence Has Lease") After the disappearance of a Klingon ship following an incident in 2365, the lack of debris indicated that the ship must be cloaked. (TOS: "Friday's Child") However, the destruction of a ship by a plasma storm might not leave debris, and the explosion of a cloaked mine might also result in a lack of debris. (VOY: "Caretaker"; DS9: "Sons of Mogh") A catastrophically close encounter with a black hole could potentially be severe enough that not even debris was found. (ENT: "Singularity") Furthermore, the imaginary photonic cannon was said to have annihilated a Borg sphere, leaving no debris for sensors to pick up. (VOY: "Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy")

In one case, while initially no debris was detected, ultimately small metallic objects were found. (TOS: "By Any Other Name")

Destruction by warp drive overload might reduce the amount of debris. (ENT: "Regeneration")

The destruction of a planet was also expected to leave debris. (TOS: "That Which Survives") Xindus was an example of a former planet being reduced to debris, resulting in a debris field nearly eighty million kilometers long. Several worlds in the Calindra system were also reduced to debris. (ENT: "The Xindi", "The Shipment", "Stratagem")

Force field emitters might be used to contain any blast debris generated in weapons tests. (ENT: "The Shipment")

Analysis of debris

Artificial debris might be analyzed to discover its origins or the cause of the destruction, either by a remote scan or by bringing it, or a sample of it, in for more detailed analysis. For example, the debris of the Xindi weapon prototype was analyzed by both a Vulcan research team and Humans, the analysis including quantum dating it to determine its age. (ENT: "The Expanse") Another way to date debris was through carbon traces, as happened on the debris of a Borg sphere found in the Arctic Circle on Earth in 2153. (ENT: "Regeneration")

A ship's mission recorder might be found in its debris, though the magnetic field from duranium present in that debris might mask it. (DS9: "Dramatis Personae")

Lack of organic material implied that a ship was unmanned, though lack of evidence of Human remains on a destroyed ship only made it a possibility that the occupant was not killed. (ENT: "Fortunate Son"; VOY: "Dreadnought", "Initiations")

It was possible to determine the last course of a destroyed vessel from the dispersal pattern of the debris. (VOY: "Initiations")

In 2369, the the Romulan Warbird IRW Khazara discovered a debris field instead of the Corvallen freighter they were scheduled to meet with. Investigation of the debris pattern by the Enterprise was able to determine that it was not consistent with destruction by malfunction or a reactor core breach. (TNG: "Face of the Enemy")

After the destruction of the Kumari, duranium alloy in the debris indicated that it was a combat vessel. The pattern in the the debris field indicated that their reactor seemed to have breached, and further analysis indicated that it had been destroyed by Tellarite weapons. However, the details leading to the latter conclusion were faked. (ENT: "Babel One")

In 2366, the Enterprise picked up a scattering of debris in extended orbit of a planet in the Zeta Gelis star cluster, and by detecting refined metals and other synthetic compounds was able to determine that it was the remains of a vessel larger than the one they had previously found on the planet's surface. In the same year, analysis of the debris of the Tanuga IV research station was seen to be consistent with an overload of the station's reactor core. (TNG: "Transfigurations", "A Matter of Perspective")

Debris might be sifted through for bomb fragments. (TNG: "The Drumhead") In 2367, Duras bombed a Sonchi ceremony aboard K'mpec's cruiser. Analysis of the debris determined the explosive to be a triceron derivative. (TNG: "Reunion")

However, debris might be doctored. The destruction of the Kumari was done in such a way that the incorrect conclusion would be reached that it was destroyed by Tellarite weapons, and two centuries later, Varria left materials in the debris of a destroyed shuttle indicating that its occupant, the android Data, had been destroyed as well. (ENT: "Babel One"; TNG: "The Most Toys")

Sensor interference and navigational hazard

Debris might interfere with sensor readings. The graviton ellipse encountered by Voyager in 2376 was full of debris, refracting sensor readings and making it hard to locate a specific artifact in the anomaly. (ENT: "Judgment"; VOY: "One Small Step")

It was unusual for Galaxy-class sensors to be unable to penetrate debris. However, handheld scanners might have trouble doing so. (TNG: "Skin of Evil"; DS9: "The Darkness and the Light")

During the Xindi incident, Shuttlepod 2 landed on an asteroid and had trouble taking of again because there was debris in its intake manifold. However the intakes could be rigged to withstand cometary debris. (ENT: "Impulse", "Terra Prime")

A nebula cluster inside the Briar Patch contained cometary debris as well as pockets of unstable metreon gas, making it inhospitable to Starfleet ships. (Star Trek: Insurrection)

Tactical use of debris

Spaceborne debris might be used tactically. The Menthars were known to hide Aceton assimilators in floating debris as a booby trap. (TNG: "Booby Trap")

It was possible to hide in a debris field, as Enterprise did at one point during the Xindi incident. (ENT: "Stratagem")

In 2266, a Romulan ship intruding into the neutral zone released debris in an attempt to trick the investigating Starfleet vessel into thinking it was destroyed. It later repeated the maneuver, but hid a nuclear weapon into the debris, dealing a severe to its opponent when they tried to investigate. (TOS: "Balance of Terror")

Starfleet phasers configured right could reduce a pumping station to a pile of debris. (TNG: "The Ensigns of Command")

The planet killer operated by reducing planets to debris and then digesting it for fuel. This was the fate of the seven planets in the L-370 system. (TOS: "The Doomsday Machine")

The USS Cerritos hit by debris.

In 2380, Drookmani scavengers in a standoff with the USS Cerritos used their tractor beam to fling pieces of lost ships from a contended debris field, battering the Cerritos to the point that it lost shields. (LD: "Terminal Provocations")

Debris as a result of asteroid neutralization

A common practice to deal with asteroids threatening planets was to reduce them to debris, which then may or may not need to be further dealt with. In 2368, the Enterprise-D managed to reduce an asteroid threatening Tessen III to a debris field. The remaining debris was determined to pose no threat to the planet. (TNG: "Cost of Living")

An asteroid threatened a Nezu colony in 2373. USS Voyager attempted to vaporize the asteroid using its weapons, but only managed to fragment it into debris, most of which continued on a collision course with the planet. The debris was later determined to be composed of artificial materials. (VOY: "Rise")

Other encounters

The Yonada asteroid ship was powered atomically, causing it to leave a trail of debris. (TOS: "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky")

In 1996, time traveling Voyager personnel destroyed a truck supposedly containing a timeship, only to scan the debris and find that that was not the case. (VOY: "Future's End, Part II")

After Terra Nova was hit by an asteroid in the late 21st century, a debris cloud formed in the atmosphere, though not reaching far enough to affect the southern hemisphere. The debris was thick enough that it blocked a message to Earth from getting out. (ENT: "Terra Nova")

In 2151, Enterprise NX-01 found the ECS Fortunate surrounded by a lot of debris in the aftermath of a Nausicaan attack. Doctor Phlox ruled out any casualties as it was only inorganic material. (ENT: "Fortunate Son")

Later that year the occupants of Shuttlepod 1 found only debris at the point where they were scheduled to meet with Enterprise and, unable to make a detailed scan, incorrectly assumed that the ship had been destroyed. (ENT: "Shuttlepod One")

In 2152, Enterprise encountered a trinary system with a black hole, which contained a debris field with a considerable amount of debris. (ENT: "Singularity")

In an alternate timeline where the Xindi destroyed Earth and other Human outposts, they later reduced a convoy of surviving Humans to a field of debris in the Mutara system in 2155. (ENT: "Twilight")

In 2154, Enterprise came upon a planet with a debris cloud in orbit, the remains of a destroyed Klingon shuttlecraft. (ENT: "Observer Effect")

Later that year, when Enterprise came upon the remains of the Earth ship Ticonderoga, they found debris consisting of hull fragments, nacelle casings and several Human bodies. (ENT: "The Aenar")

In 2266, the USS Enterprise was to rendezvous with the Antares, only to find debris of the destroyed ship instead. (TOS: "Charlie X")

Later that year, an aggressive Romulan intrusion in the neutral zone resulted in the destruction of Earth Outpost Stations. They were pulverized, reduced to dust and debris. (TOS: "Balance of Terror")

During the Federation-Klingon War of 2267, the USS Enterprise fired upon a Klingon vessel on 100% dispersal pattern, quickly destroying the ship to the point that only drifting debris registered. (TOS: "Errand of Mercy")

After being missing in space for six years, debris belonging to the SS Beagle was located near 892-IV in 2268. (TOS: "Bread and Circuses")

Later that year, a space amoeba was discovered, the outer layers of which in 2268 were studded with space debris and waste. (TOS: "The Immunity Syndrome")

In 2270, the USS Huron was left as space junk following an attack that left the engines inoperable. (TAS: "The Pirates of Orion")

After the remains of the Batris was found in 2364, debris was analyzed. (TNG: "Heart of Glory")

Later, after Shuttlecraft 13 went down on Vagra II, 2364, scans of the planet determined that it was trapped under a lot of debris. (TNG: "Skin of Evil")

Soon after the Enterprise detected an ancient capsule which appeared to be from Earth. Commander Riker dismissed the probe as space debris and advised for it to be left alone on its course which would eventually see it destroyed. However, Data insisted on investigating it and found it to be a space module containing frozen but revivable Humans. (TNG: "The Neutral Zone")

In 2365, a Klingon ship detected debris in the upper atmosphere of Theta VIII. A follow up mission by Starfleet found debris in a loose elliptical orbit of the planet, which turned out to be of the long-lost Earth ship Charybdis. (TNG: "The Royale")

In the 2367 search for a missing shuttlecraft in the Pentarus system, the Enterprise found debris, though not enough to account for the entire craft. (TNG: "Final Mission")

In 2368, a Ferengi cargo ship went down in the Hanolin asteroid belt, leaving debris spread over a hundred square kilometers. (TNG: "Unification I")

After having lost their memories and being manipulated by the Satarrans later that year, the USS Enterprise-D crew discovered metallic debris near their ship and speculated that they might have been engaged in battle. (TNG: "Conundrum")

Also that year, the Enterprise found the debris of a Borg scout ship, and a surviving drone inside it. (TNG: "I Borg")

Upon the destruction of the shuttlecraft Fermi in 2369, the debris was recovered by its mother ship. (TNG: "Rascals")

In the 2370 search for the missing USS Hera, at one point it was reported that no debris had been found yet. (TNG: "Interface")

Later that year, the Enterprise encountered a debris field in the Hekaras Corridor that did not show up on any of the Federation charts of that corridor. It consisted primarily of duranium and polycomposite fragments which suggested a ship. (TNG: "Force of Nature")

Not long after, Starfleet Intelligence received information that a Romulan warbird had located a piece of debris in the Devolin system which was positively identified as being from the Pegasus. (TNG: "The Pegasus")

Also that year, the Enterprise detected debris of what could have been a Federation escape pod inside Cardassian space. This, together with an intercepted Cardassian report, indicated that Ensign Sito Jaxa had been killed. (TNG: "Lower Decks")

A debris field in 2371

In 2371, the USS Voyager and the Val Jean detected a debris field where they located a small vessel and a humanoid lifeform. (VOY: "Caretaker")

When the Caretaker's array was destroyed in 2371, the debris was scanned and found to be particulate dust and metallic fragments composed of an unknown alloy, as well as vapor composed of hydrogen, helium, mercury and argon. It was more briefly described as there being nothing was left but some fused pieces of metal alloy. (VOY: "The Voyager Conspiracy")

A planet destroyed by polaric radiation in that same year initially showed up on Voyager's sensors as a debris cloud of differentially charged polaric ions. (VOY: "Time and Again")

In 2372, en route to rescue Gul Dukat, the USS Defiant detected the wreckage of a number of Cardassian starships attacked by the Klingons. (DS9: "The Way of the Warrior")

Soon after, Voyager followed a path of ships reduced to debris to find their missing commander Chakotay. In the course of the same incident, a young Kazon was shown debris and led to believe that it was Chakotay that had destroyed the ship it was from. (VOY: "Initiations")

The 2373 mineral survey of Torga IV turned up a lot of rocks that crewman Muniz labeled class five pyroclastic debris. (DS9: "The Ship")

In 2373, a Vostigye station was found to be destroyed by astral eddys. The resulting debris field encompassed nearly eighty cubic kilometers and consisted of boronite, sarium, and carbon-60 composites, which was considered consistent with it having been a space station. (VOY: "Real Life")

While traversing Borg space soon after, Voyager encountered the debris of fifteen destroyed Borg cubes, the first sign that they had wandered into the Borg-Species 8472 War. (VOY: "Scorpion")

In 2375, when the Delta Flyer went missing on an away mission, the Voyager crew anxiously awaited any news, including the possibility that the search teams might have found debris or life signs. Eventually debris was located. (VOY: "Once Upon a Time")

Soon after, Voyager encountered what at first sight appeared to be an asteroid field, 120 kilometers across, but eventually turned out to be the debris of a destroyed Borg cube. This was determined when tetryon particles consistent with the atmosphere within a cube were detected within the debris. (VOY: "Infinite Regress")

Later that year, no debris was detected in the area of a subspace sinkhole encountered by Voyager. On a planet inside the sinkhole, Starfleet personnel detected "engine debris" on the surface. (VOY: "Gravity")

Also in that year, Voyager responded to a distress call, but by the time they reached it, there was only debris in the form of residual deuterium, antineutrons, and traces of dichromates. With so little left of the ship, Captain Janeway in her log noted the cause of destruction as unknown. (VOY: "Course: Oblivion")

The Vaadwaur subspace corridors were filled with debris, including metal fragments, plasma exhaust and organic residue. Captain Janeway described them as a garbage stream. (VOY: "Dragon's Teeth")

In 2377, Voyager went scavenging in a Borg debris field near the Yontasa Expanse. Later that year, Voyager destroyed a Borg ship, leaving only a few components intact, and retrieved eight kilotons of debris. (VOY: "Imperfection")

In 2378, Voyager came upon an alien testing ground littered with metallic debris. (VOY: "Human Error")

Later that year, a Voyager shuttle crashed on Ledos, leading debris to be scattered over several kilometers. The primitive natives of the area started to gather the debris in order to imitate the shuttle survivors, a major concern to the Starfleet crew who did not want to contaminate the culture. Eventually the debris was retrieved. (VOY: "Natural Law")

In the 29th century, Captain Braxton of the timeship Aeon found debris from Voyager's secondary hull after the destruction of the Sol system, and concluded that they were responsible. (VOY: "Future's End", "Future's End, Part II")

In 3188 there was a debris field around the planet Hima as well as one surrounding a Federation relay station. (DIS: "That Hope Is You, Part 1")


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