I know that my statement at the end of my last very short lecture must have been a surprise to you.
The fact that Kathryn Maclean, her ship and crew have gone missing is not yet public knowledge. Even I had not had a full breifing when I spoke to you last.
You will remember the art work by Leonie Szczepanski that I used in the last lecture to explain some of the basic operations of the hyperspace drive. In particular the precise nature of the applied physical and electromagnetic forces that are required to squeeze a ship into hyperspace to a defined destination.
In the early days of our experimentation we did lose a number of unmanned drones. We always assumed that was due to some failure in the autoreturn mechanism we employed because as we refined our methods the return rate became 100%. We did not attempt a manned jump until we could reliably send and recover an unmanned drone.
In fact the use of autoreturn unmanned drones is standard practice in all hyperspace jumps. We calculate as well as we can the forces we should apply to reach some point in space. These are programmed into the drone together with a return route. The drone jumps, spends a certain time recording pictures and other telemetry and returns. We then compare what we see with what we expected to see from that point in space. If it matches we make the jump with the manned ship.
This is exactly what Kathryn did on her latest trip. All the telemetry from the returned drone was transmitted to Earth from our base at Sun/Earth Lagrange point 2 and appears to be correct. The star patterns it returned with match the location the jump was intended to reach, which was close to Tau Ceti, about 11 light years away, which has a sun similar to our own and a high probability of having planets.
We sent a search drone after we did not have contact with Kathryn's ship by data carrying drone within 24 hours, which it is normal practice for exploration ships to send back. The search drone found no sign of a ship, debris, radio or light signals or anything else abnormal. We are hoping that Kathryn can find a way to send us a message back by drone from wherever she is. However, as I mentioned there is a possibility that her ship has never arrived anywhere and she is in limbo still within hyperspace.
Rather than spend our time on lectures I am going to split you up into small groups, provide you with access to the data we have and our other experts. You are the brightest and best from the worlds students of astronomy, astrophysics, mathematics and science. If there is an answer you may be best placed to find it. Just carry in your head that picture we started with, somewhere in the chaos and confusion of that fractal art there is a solution.
Please find Kathryn