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Nomad is a dangerous combination of a human space probe and an alien probe that appears in TOS "The Changeling". It amounts to a technology of the week.


"Nomad" was originally an Earth probe "launched in the early 2000s". It was Earth's first interstellar probe, and it's purpose was to seek new forms of life. At some point after launch it collided with a meteoroid and was presumed lost. The damaged probe drifted into contact with an advanced alien probe called Tan Ru, which was also damaged. Tan Ru was capable of self-repair, but it lacked the parts it needed to repair itself. When the two probes came into contact, Tan Ru used its self-repair capabilities to merge both probes into a single entity.

The hybrid probe had the following properties:

  • It was just over 1 meter in length and had a mass of 500 kilograms.
  • It could sustain a direct hit from a photon torpedo without damage.
  • It could fire weapons of its own that struck with energy "equivalent to 90 photon torpedoes".
  • It could propel itself through space at "ultrawarp" speed.

Tan Ru's original purpose was to collect soil samples and sterilize them for later analysis. During the reconstruction, incomplete memories from Tan Ru and Nomad merged. Following the reconstruction, the hybrid's new purpose was to "probe for biological infestations" and to "destroy that which is not perfect." It killed 4 billion people in the Malurian star system in the pursuit of this "prime function".

Fortunately, Captain Kirk was able to point out that it had made several errors when it came into contact with the Enterprise. Faced with knowledge of its own imperfection, Nomad executed its prime function and self-destructed.


"Our shields absorbed energy equivalent to 90 of our photon torpedoes."
"I may add the energy used repulsing this first attack reduced our shielding power 20%."
-- TOS "The Changeling"

It is odd that the Enterprise survived a hit from one of Nomad's weapons, absorbing the equivalent of 90 photon torpedoes, and suffered only a 20% shield reduction. At that rate, it would take 450 photon torpedoes to overcome the shields of a Constitution-class starship. A ship-to-ship combat weapon should be capable of crippling a likely target with just a few hits.

The number of photo torpedoes carried by a Constitution-class starship isn't specified (one secondary source[1] says 20), but the much larger Galaxy-class only carries 250.


  1. Mr. Scott's Guide to the Enterprise by Lora Johnson