Also known as "eezo," the rare material known as element zero generates a field when subjected to an electrical current, which raises or lowers the mass of all objects within it. This "mass effect" forms the basis of modern technology, from weapons and manufacturing, to enabling faster-than-light travel.
Element zero is generated when solid matter, such as a planet, is affected by the energy of a star going supernova. The material is common in the asteroid debris that orbits neutron stars and pulsars, though mining such regions is extremely hazardous and requires significant investment.
Surveys of the Helius Cluster suggested the region is rich in element zero, which was a deciding factor in the Andromeda Initiative’s decision to settle there. Without eezo, the Initiative’s technology would quickly become obsolete.
Comprised of over thirty observed systems, the Helius Cluster Cluster is a star cluster on the outer fringes of the Andromeda Galaxy. Helius, as it is commonly known, was chosen as the Andromeda Initiative's destination after long-range surveys suggested it had an unusually high number of habitable worlds. The cluster also has a large black hole at its centre, whose formation may have been the cause of Helius's rich element zero deposits.
Surveying and classification of Helius is an ongoing process. While some planets have official names, others are still known by their initial survey data: "H" (for "Helius Object") followed by a catalogue number.
Automated forward stations are part of the initial wave of exploration or colonist deployment. They contain valuable resource caches for explorers to resupply, repair stations for vehicles, and ground-penetrating sensors to identify mineral deposits. Their presence improves the chances of a planet being considered viable.
When a planet is seriously considered for settlement or a survey is ongoing, forward stations are seeded into orbit via automated barges. Once summoned to a designated zone, forward stations descend and anchor themselves on the ground, becoming valuable landmarks. Most scout rovers have forward station connectivity, allowing them to be summoned to the stations.
Current resource constraints mean that, in theory, only Pathfinders have official sanction to call down forward stations. In reality, reports show that enterprising colonists or unscrupulous scavengers have been known to hack the signals to raid the stations for supplies.
In the event any member of the Pathfinder Team encounters intelligent alien life, it is imperative that "first contact" protocols be strictly observed. The Andromeda Initiative holds the principles of peace and cooperation among our highest ideals. Aggressive action against extraterrestrials is only permitted when hostile intent is clearly demonstrated and Pathfinder team members are at obvious risk of injury or death.
Suvi Anwar is a member of the Nexus’ science team, and holds advanced degrees in astrophysics and molecular biology. In a screening interview, she stated that she was from a “large, rather boisterous family” of five children. Her neuroscientist mother and mathematician father exposed her and her siblings to science from a young age, which sparked a lifelong love of the subject. Suvi declares that there was no hesitation on her part in signing up for the Andromeda Initiative, once she learned of its existence, owing to a desire to see and experience more than one small corner of this vast universe.