While the conversion process is entirely automated, a constant crew is required to oversee an Atmosphere Processor's maintenance. Often an entire colony will be established for this very purpose, such as Hadley's Hope on Acheron (LV-426).
The first planet to develop a breathable atmosphere through the use of such a device (then known as the Weyland Atmospheric Processor) was GJ-667Cc in 2039. Atmosphere Processors are cone-shaped towers some 1,500 meters high and are powered by a 1.0 terawatt fusion reactor. The conversion process they carry out starts when native atmosphere is drawn in through a series of louvres in the base and sides of the structure. This gas is then drawn up through a battery of turbines, which compress and accelerate the atmosphere, into a series of hot mass processors arranged in a ring around the central fusion core. Within the processors, the gas is passed through a high temperature electrical arc that heats and ionizes it, before it is further heated to near plasma temperatures in the region of 5,000°K by magnetic coils. The extreme heat causes molecules within the gas to dissociate into their component atoms.
Once reduced, the hot streams of monatomic gas are sorted by a series of magnetic fields into their constituent elements. Some of these components, such as carbon, are drawn off as waste by-product, many of which have value as fuel sources, industrial cleaning solvents or raw materials for manufacturing. The remaining hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen atoms are expelled back into the atmosphere from the top of the processor to form as H2, N2 and O2. Repurposing an existing atmosphere in this way is said to be preferable to generating a breathable atmosphere from scratch.
While the processor's fusion reactor is liable to undergo catastrophic meltdown if critical systems are damaged, the resultant explosion, although enormous in scale, does not create any notable radioactive fallout. Once stable atmospheric equilibrium is achieved, the processor continues to monitor environmental gas compositions and will automatically correct imbalances.
Atmosphere Processors are often used in conjunction with natural terraforming techniques, including the introduction of ecological architectures — usually through the use of specially engineered mosses, grasses and small flowering plants — that will convert certain atmospheric gasses (mainly carbon dioxide) into usable oxygen.
Sold exclusively in conjunction with Weyland Atmosphere Processors, the Atmospheric Pressurizer can create a locally adapted micro-pressurized environment to prevent injury, illness or discomfort on off-world colonies with either marginal or oppressive stratospheric hold. On most planets, a standard atmospheric pressure of approximately 1.0 atmosphere at sea level can be achieved, reducing the need for decompression treatments and additional medical personnel in the early stages of terraforming.
Behind the ScenesEdit
The production team initially proposed to film the Atmosphere Processor interiors in Aliens at an oil refinery, surmising that the complicated piping and ductwork would give them the industrial look they required, and got as far as scouting a disused BP facility on the Isle of Grain, east of London. However, the refinery's owners informed them that under no circumstances could pyrotechnics be used on the site due to the danger of fire, even at an disused facility. Owing the the large part such effects would play in the film's Hive sequences, the location was abandoned and the crew subsequently began searching for disused power stations, of which London has several. The Atmosphere Processor sets were ultimately built at Acton Lane Power Station in west London.
- Aliens/novel (First Appearance)
- Aliens versus Predator
- Aliens versus Predator: Extinction (as "Atmos")
- Aliens vs. Predator (in advertisements)
- Aliens: Colonial Marines (video game)
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 "Weyland Corp - Corporate Timeline". Retrieved on 2013-06-07.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Lee Brimmicombe-Wood (1996). Aliens: Colonial Marines Technical Manual. HarperPrism, 158.
- ↑ Alan Dean Foster (1986). Aliens novelization. Warner Books, Inc., 36.
- ↑ Alan Dean Foster (1986). Aliens novelization. Warner Books, Inc., 228.
- ↑ Aliens: Colonial Marines [Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360]. Gearbox Software.
- ↑ Peter Lamont. Finding an Unused Power Station [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- ↑ James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd, Gordon Carroll, David Giler, Walter Hill, Stan Winston. Superior Firepower: The Making of 'Aliens' [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.