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  • Defensive technology used to prevent vessel impacts
    • Used in both navigational and combat applications
  • Fundamentally based in projection of a highly concentrated burst of gravitons often intermixed with photons or other exotic particles to hold in place, forming a barrier which deflects unwanted energy and matter
  • Two basic manifestations of deflector technology
    • Beams
      • Projected from emitter arrays most often along direction of travel, usually from a dish structure to minimize attenuation, in order to clear path of interstellar medium or small obstacles
    • Shields
      • Projected from emitter arrays across surface of the vessel at a particular regular frequency, forming a deflector envelope
        • Timing shields at a specific frequency allows other emissions (weapons, sensors, etc.) to be transmitted through without requiring windows opened in defenses
          • Frequency can't be easily detected by outside scans due to high energy fields distorting sensor results
        • External emissions still largely blocked if not projected at the same frequency, caught before passing through the brief gap in defense; however, able to pass through fully if tuned to the same frequency
      • Prior to 24th century developments, most often manifested as hull-tight fields
        • Less energy-intensive, but less flexibility in geometry, less applicability in non-combat scenarios
      • In 24th century, most often manifested as an elliptical bubble around the vessel
        • Requires greater energy investment (though this is compensated for to a degree by improvements in emitter efficiency), but configuration of the shield bubble can be modified to vary effective vessel geometry or extended encompass objects or other vessels (at the cost of greater attenuation)
      • Shields function as energy capacitors, cycling from emitter to projected field and back to emitter with little loss (mechanism unknown, but likely subspace-physics-related given that early Earth ships had deflectors but no shields)
        • Shields cannot be run continuously without cycling down indefinitely, however; they do cause a drain on systems given enough time (TNG Novel: The Buried Age)
        • Contact with external forces consumes cycled energy to maintain the artificial barrier, often visibly, potentially overloading or burning out a given emitter over time as it attempts to compensate for the loss
          • Energy consumed can be extremely minimal if shields are properly tuned against the threat or the threat is sufficiently weak ("no damage" or "shields holding" reports)
        • Deflectors even able to deflect lasers, though visible light seems to mostly pass through unaffected otherwise; function of tuning against threat?
        • If not overloaded or damaged, 24th century Federation deflector emitters can recharge from drained to full strength following a 45 second recharge cycle while inactive (VOY: "Equinox")
        • Inappropriately-configured deflector shield emitters can cause distortion of other graviton beam emissions through lensing effects, as graviton containment packets interact inappropriately with beams (ENT Novel: A Choice of Futures)
      • Shield technology fundamentally similar to but distinct from forcefield technology
    • Deflector emitters extremely flexible, can be modified and/or re-engineered for a wide variety of energy or particle projections (many many times deflector dish or shields do something related to neither)