One of the several dynamically stable orbital zones in most solar systems is that which lies quite close to the parent sun. These epistellar regions often contain a planet of some form, but those that do not almost always have a population of a few hundred asteroidal bodies five kilometers or less in diameter. These bodies are largely unchanged since the formation of their solar system, but because of the intense thermal conditions present they tend to be dense and metallic in nature, and many possess quite unique mineral assemblages not seen on other solar system bodies.
As a consequence of their placement, Vulcanians do not present an impact hazard to Gaian worlds, although they do threaten other types of inner worlds. Indeed, most inner planets with large numbers of impact craters can have them attributed to Vulcanian bodies.
Vulcanians are considered to be among the greatest prizes as far as asteroids are concerned, due to their immense mineralogical wealth. They can also be among the most difficult to procure and to move to a processing site because of thermal stressing, and the energy requirements to move such a body out of the local sun's gravity well.
A Vulcanian Tale
In 2159 the exploratory Amtech vessel, the AMT Dutchmann, became the first manned vessel to travel past the orbit of Mercury. Remote Mining Guild probes had already sampled many Vulcanian asteroids, but the Dutchmann was to be the first vessel to rendezvous and land on such a body.
From the beginning, however, the expedition experienced problems and setbacks. Initial conflicts between Captain Alandro Escarcega and the XO Marcus Bowden created drops in efficiency. But the problems soon escalated into equipment failure, ranging from computer memory loss to actual mechanical failures. But the worst problem was yet to occur, a mere five hours from their destination. For unknown reasons, the forward radiation shield partially separated from its moorings, and then catastrophically sheered away, leaving the entire vessel unprotected from the fierce stellar radiation and heat. In less than an hour, the crew had perished, despite brave attempts to rig a temporary shield. Now unmanned, the Dutchmann continued on its course via automated sequences, and touched down on the surface of the asteroid Brost within thirty meters of the planned landing site. The vessel never moved again.
Over the long years, thermal radiation had largely broken the vessel down, and the organic remains of the crew had long since been completely destroyed. However, the final remains of the vessel were protected when, in 2562, the Exploration Society established the Dutchmann Memorial and placed it under a shielded dome. A simple plaque on the site reads: "Dedicated to the memory of all explorers who have given their lives, and who constantly remind us that our path to the stars has been paved with tragedy as well as triumph."
Vulcanian asteroids tend to be solid, relatively high mass bodies, their surfaces often reflecting their unusual mineralogical properties.
Discovery: Because of their location and the difficulties of observing such a location from ground based observation sites, Vulcanians were not discovered in the Sol System until the early 21st Century.
Vulcanians of Note: The Sol System's Akritiri, a mere 2.3 kilometers in diameter, possessed the only known repository of Yannenite. In orbit of Gliese 666 A, the asteroid Serbina ( a giant 6.3 kilometer diameter) was the center of colonial infighting because of the resources that it represented. In the end, it was abandoned by the colony, which opted for a simpler, agrarian lifestyle.
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