Ablative Armor

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Ablative armour being activated.

Starship protective hull plating that is designed to vaporize under weapons fire, thereby dissipating energy and protecting the ship's systems inside. Star Fleet first began use of this armor by 2371. In the event of a shield envelope disruption, the ablative armor is designed so that a ship would have some degree of protection even if the shields should be overcome in future encounters.

Ablative armor has evolved since it’s original inception. Currently it is controlled by an ablative armor generator. This involves a series of devices placed onto the hull of a vessel, and when activated these replicate a layer of armor over the surface of the ship. The system can be materialized and dematerialized as needed. This also gives additional protection to the ship as the weapons systems can be covered over when they are not actually in use – this is in comparison to older armor systems that required openings to be left in it so that weapons could operate through them.

In the event of a shield envelope disruption, phaser or thermal EM is first dissipated over the hull surface, and above an undisclosed threshold causes the molecular matrix to boil off at a controlled rate, carrying away a large fraction of the landed beam energy. In most cases, the boil-off creates a medium density particle cloud, which may help disperse the incoming beam.

It is of note that under certain conditions, chroniton particles generated by Romulan cloaking devices can become lodged in the ablative armor matrix. On at least one occasion, a temporal surge caused by the explosion of a microscopic singularity shifted the chroniton particles in the hull into a high state of temporal polarization, this caused a transporter beam to be redirected through time, sending Commander Benjamin Sisko, Doctor Julian Bashir, and Lieutenant Jadzia Dax back in time to 2024, just before the Bell Riots.

Earlier versions of ablative armor consisted of an ablative hull layer that was attached to the main hull, and acted as an additional layer of armor for the ship. If damaged, the armor could be replaced in sections at a Star Base or during flight, due to the modular nature of the armor.