Multi Adaptive Refractive Shielding
The new Multi Adaptive Refractive Shielding (also known as the M.A.R.S. system) is a defensive deflector modification created in 2389 and commissioned as a secret defence project by Rear Admiral James Ryan during his tenure as Executive Officer of Task Force 9 of the 4th Fleet. Several talented engineers came together to design a variety of defences that would, hopefully, add to the defensive capabilities of ships across the Federation. Ultimately, the first to come to fruition was the M.A.R.S. system, a combination of two very different technologies and countless hours of research.
The initial inspiration for the M.A.R.S. project came from Multi-Adaptive shielding which was a deflector shield stealth technology developed by Erin and Magnus Hansen in 2353, for use in keeping their vessel, the USS Raven, virtually invisible to Borg sensors during their field study of the Collective.
After tracking a Borg cube at close range for nearly three years, the Hansen's encountered a subspace particle storm which caused their shielding to go offline for 13.2 seconds, during which time the Borg were able to detect them. Considering the Raven a threat, they pursued the ship and ultimately assimilated the Hansen's.
In 2375, the crew of the USS Voyager incorporated multi-adaptive shielding into the systems of the Delta Flyer, to facilitate a rescue mission for the Hansen's daughter, now known as Seven of Nine, who was being held captive by the Borg Queen in the Unicomplex. Although the shielding was initially successful in concealing the Flyer's presence, the Queen, who was able to use the Collective's knowledge of the technology due to the assimilation of the Hansen's research, was able to adapt and penetrate the shielding. Tom Paris, piloting the Flyer, managed to remodulate the shields to avoid further detection, prompting the Queen to lay down a blind firing pattern. The Borg were eventually able to lock on to the Flyer's shield modulators, continually adapting to the changing modulations. To the Project team in 2389, it was clear the Multi-Adaptive shielding would not be enough to combat modern technological advancements so they sought other research and technologies to combine with it.
It was Lieutenant Commander Gregory Pennington, formally of the Starfleet Corps of Engineers, who thought of using the Refractive shielding system which was a deflector shield stealth technology used by the Devore Imperium of the Delta Quadrant. Said system allowed a vessel to remain invisible to conventional sensors unless specifically compensated for. Combining both technologies to create a stealth system that would significantly enhance the combat capabilities of the Ulysses (whilst bypassing the Treaty of Algeron and the restriction on Federation developed cloaking devices), was challenging for the Engineering team who worked solidly to combine the technologies into a single system, initially with limited success until a breakthrough with the power output and generation signatures of the testbed ship in simulations allowed them to counter a potentially fatal flaw in the design.
Following tests and simulations aboard the starships Nogura and Ulysses, it was found that there was a potential risk of ships being detected through the M.A.R.S. system if at high warp when in scanning range of a another vessel; Ulysses was detected and engaged in 5 out of 20 simulations whilst Nogura was detected in 7 of 18. However, it was quickly determined that if the starships were operating at a low warp or even impulse power, they avoided detection every time. It also became apparent that if the system was used for more than three hours at a time, the deflector would be at risk of burning out. A cool-down period of at least six hours following the systems use is usually required. For now, both ships would be limited to lower warp speeds and infrequent use of the system until a solution to both flaws could be found, but nevertheless, the M.A.R.S. System would surely become a key weapon in the arsenals of these two starships.