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An emergency buoy launch in 2370

A log buoy, also known as a disaster recorder, recorder marker, space recorder, black box, or emergency buoy, was a type of space buoy that could be launched by starships.

When Enterprise came upon an unknown small craft in 2152, Trip Tucker and Malcolm Reed attempted to locate various objects in it, including a black box, which they could not locate. (ENT: "Future Tense")

A recorder marker was designed to relay the ships logs and other relevant information back to its command base. Recorder markers were launched in situations when a ship could not use its communications system to relay the information before the imminent destruction or capture of the ship. The recorder marker was built to withstand the complete destruction of the starship at close range, with a minimal possibility of external forces causing damage to the data held within. (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before"; Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; TNG: "Descent, Part II")

Starships as well as other smaller craft also carried a data recorder, also known as a flight recorder or a mission recorder, where the same data was stored. The recorder was built to withstand the destruction of the ship, so that it could be salvaged from the wreckage after the destruction of the craft. (ENT: "Babel One"; TNG: "The First Duty")


Data recorder

In 2154, a data recorder was retrieved from the wreckage of the Andorian warship Kumari by the NX-class starship Enterprise NX-01. (ENT: "Babel One")

Later the same year, a data recorder was recovered from the remains of a Rigelian freighter by Enterprise. After it was discovered that the black box had been erased, Commander T'Pol and Ensign Hoshi Sato worked together in an effort to reconstruct any recoverable data from it. T'Pol suggested trying to recover its directory using a recursive algorithm. Eventually, they were able to learn that Lieutenant Malcolm Reed had deliberately wiped the recorder's memory core with a microdyne coupler. (ENT: "Affliction")

In 2368, data from the flight recorder of Wesley Crusher's downed Academy trainer craft was examined by a Starfleet Academy board of inquiry to determine the cause of a fatal accident involving the Nova Squadron flight team. Prior to the trial Nicholas Locarno tampered with the flight recorder and erased 90 seconds of video and audio of the exact moment the Kolvoord Starburst was preformed causing the crash. He was expelled for this action and removed from duty. (TNG: "The First Duty")

In 2369, Commander Benjamin Sisko told Lieutenant Jadzia Dax and Chief Miles O'Brien to take a runabout and find the mission recorder of the destroyed Klingon Vor'cha-class attack cruiser IKS Toh'Kaht. (DS9: "Dramatis Personae")

Log buoy

Disaster recorder from the SS Valiant

The Earth vessel SS Valiant carried a disaster recorder on its mission in 2065, which Kirk described as an "old-style ship recorder". When the vessel was destroyed after the encounter with the galactic barrier, the disaster recorder was ejected, and remained adrift for two hundred years, before it was picked up by the USS Enterprise. Despite the damage done to it by the long exposure to space, portions of the memory banks still contained retrievable data. (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before")

A disaster recorder of this type was part of Kerner Hauze's collection at the time of his death in 2381. (LD: "Kayshon, His Eyes Open")

This type of disaster recorder was described, in the script for "Where No Man Has Gone Before", as, "a somewhat spherical device about three feet tall, sitting on tripod legs." It was also said to have a "metallic surface."

Federation starships carried recorder markers. During the encounter with the Fesarius, Captain Kirk ordered the Enterprise's recorder marker launched. Balok destroyed it almost as soon as it was launched. (TOS: "The Corbomite Maneuver")

The novelization of TAS: "One of Our Planets Is Missing" (in Star Trek Log 1) refers to the captain's log of the Constitution-class USS Enterprise as having the capacity to be shot clear of the ship and being "permanently mounted in a special, super-fast courier torpedo equipped with a powerful homing beacon."

In 2285, Saavik ordered the launch of the log buoy of the Enterprise before ordering all hands to abandon ship, in her Kobayashi Maru exam. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

In 2370, Doctor Beverly Crusher gave the order to launch an emergency buoy from the USS Enterprise-D to notify Starfleet about the Borg. (TNG: "Descent, Part II")

In 2375, the crew of a duplicate USS Voyager attempted to launch a log buoy constructed from materials they had acquired which were not comprised of Silver Blood, and thus not degrading like their Voyager, and themselves. (VOY: "Course: Oblivion")

According to Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual (p. 118), these 24th century Federation emergency buoys were class 9 warp probes, typically used as an emergency log/message capsule on a homing trajectory to the nearest starbase or known Starfleet vessel position. They could travel at warp 9 for twelve hours or at warp 8 for fourteen days. The probes' memory contained 3,400 kiloquads of isolinear memory storage.
Producer-writer Harve Bennett provided the voice of the Enterprise flight recorder in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, according to the Star Trek Encyclopedia (4th ed., vol. 1, p. 276).

Black box

Black boxes were a special kind of log buoy used by Federation starships in the 21st and 31st centuries to keep records if the ship was destroyed.

In 2151, while stranded onboard Shuttlepod 1 in the belief that Enterprise NX-01 had been destroyed, Tucker suggested to Malcolm Reed that they should look for its black box. (ENT: "Shuttlepod One")

In 3188, Michael Burnham began collecting black boxes from ships which were destroyed during The Burn, convinced that it would help locate the point of origin and cause of the phenomenon. (DIS: "Scavengers") She had eventually gathered boxes from the USS Yelchin, the USS Giacconi, and the Gav'Nor. (DIS: "Unification III") The combination of the data from the black boxes and the data from SB-19, allowed the Discovery to trace the source of the Burn. (DIS: "The Sanctuary")