You are nominally part of Maintenance, but you have been selected for Life Support due to your technical qualifications (or your total disregard for your own health). Your main responsibility is operating the jury rigged xenoreactor that supplies Thermopylae with its energy. Without it Thermopylae would be dark, cold and without defenses.
None of you really understand the underlying physics of the reactor - that’s way above your paygrade - but you know how to operate it, how to listen for the irregularities in its humming, how to tweak the power settings to squeeze a few extra kilowatts out of it. You are also painfully aware of how reliant you are on this single reactor, and how much maintenance it takes to keep it running. You are also aware of, but try to not think about, the amount of energy that would be released should the reactor catastrophically fail.
As reactor technicians you also handle the power distribution in Thermopylae. There is never enough power to go around, and you have to make decisions all the time about what sections to power, what projects to delay while you work out power efficiencies etc. The equipment in the Science labs and hydroponics eats up a lot of electricity, as does the external sensor network and the SURFOPS equipment, or even the internal heating, lights and ventilation. Fortunately, Thermopylae has condensator banks, from which it can draw power for a short period while the reactor is offline.
You are constantly juggling these variables around. Too much downtime on the hydroponics could kill the algae growing there, too much downtime on the ventilation fans and the Outpost fills up with carbon dioxide. Your go to fix is turning out the lights, but that has some serious impact on both work and morale for the rest of the outpost.
One of your other important areas of responsibility is the air scrubber. Just pumping in air from the surface would quickly fill the outpost with spores and who knows what else. Thats why Thermopylae is mostly on a closed system in which you pump air in through a scrubber, and then try to recycle the internal air for as long as possible to minimize introducing contaminants from the outside. The scrubber takes constant maintenance to work efficiently.
A word about handling “problems”
The reactor will mostly run normally, but there might instances where you either have a reactor problem (you will notice that the sound the reactor makes changes dramatically) or you will be forced to make an unplanned spindown (ie there is a Code Blue). These are critical, dangerous happenings and we urge you to make the most of them. Sound the alarm, clear the corridor, close the doors, make a fuss.
You should have at least one hazmat suit and protective gear for handling this situation. That is not a job you want to volunteer for, going in alone in a reactor room that might explode at any minute. The point though is - don’t touch the reactor. It’s (offgame) a delicate system and we don’t want you inadvertently breaking it. For spindowns, just activate the spindown sequence and the reactor will eventually spin down. For reactor problems, make a big scene, but the reactor problem will eventually either right itself, or the reactor will enter spindown after which you are free to run troubleshooting and try to start it up again.
- Reactor maintenance. An integral part of the reactor are the controlling rods. Once or twice during your shift (you’ll be notified on your terminal) you need to spin the reactor down (ie turn it off), remove the controlling rods and replace them with fresh ones. When putting the new rods in you spray them down with a sealant (which offgame happens to be an oxidizer that causes rusting). The used controlling rods will be rusty and worn, and in need of maintenance. This is performed by polishing off the rust from them using scotch brite, sand paper, files etc. Once this operation is completed, spin the reactor up again. Air filter maintenance. The air scrubber needs to be disassembled and cleaned once per shift.
- Keeping an eye on the internal alarm board (and an ear on the reactor). There might be cable breaks, air quality sensors to change, a spore detector in a vent somewhere giving a red light, unexplained power drains etc etc that you need to react to.
- Power distribution. Different sections of the Outpost will contact you about power needs - MISCON needs to run a mission or Science needs to run some experiments etc, and then it’s your responsibility to balance the power needs, often by shutting down other parts of the outpost. There will be a terminal interface for this, but it will also require footwork from you.
- Reactor anomalies. Sometimes the reactor might act up. Sometimes that’s really bad. You need to handle those problems quickly (see above).