The Avatar Program enables humans to explore the remote and hostile environment of Pandora without endangering human life. Essentially the technique is similar to the use of remotely operated robotic vehicles for exploration. However, the Avatar Program uses biological human/Na'vi hybrid bodies, called avatars. They are specifically engineered for operation in the Pandoran environment. The operator is able to use the avatar body as if it were his or her own, enhancing freedom of movement and increasing work output.
Creation of the ProgramEdit
At the beginning of exploration to Pandora, the RDA had never considered creating a unique program to bridge the gap between Humanity and the Na'vi. The primary reason behind this was that the RDA was not concerned about learning about the Na'vi culture when their goals were to mine unobtanium.
However, a great concern grew amongst the public about why the RDA refused to learn about the Na'vi since they were in-fact damaging territories with cultural significance to Na'vi tribes. The scientific community was also concerned for the safety of the Na'vi. With pressure mounting, the UN stepped in and the RDA ultimately agreed to create a program or rather a committee to deal with possible alien contact.
The Extra-Terrestrial Committee of Pandora was a committee created for the sole purpose of learning and understanding the newly discovered aliens of Pandora. Their primary goals was educating the populace on Earth as well as bridging relations with this unknown alien species.
Before the program was created, the RDA had already experimented with the possibility of establishing a mental connection with a 'vacant' body. The origins of these experiments first spurred to life by controversial scientist Dr. Cordell Lovecraft and his Dark Dreamer project.
The project toyed with the idea that one can transfer mental consciousness to a body that no longer had consciousness. However, Dr. Cordell soon found that one could not 'transfer' an entire consciousness into another being. So a loophole was discovered which allowed the transfer of 'mental thoughts' instead.
Having done numerous experiments on 'brain-wiped' death-row inmates and primates, the experiment proved a success with the theory of transferring mental thoughts to another being.
Dr. Lovecraft has been nominated for multiple Nobel prizes in biological sciences through his years of research and experiments. However the nominations have invariably been withdrawn following protests from human rights organizations, the UN Pan-Faith Council, and animal rights activists.
Birth of the ProgramEdit
When the RDA had been constructing Hell's Gate, the RDA had set out to learn and accumulate data about the Na'vi culture which was relevant to their studies and experiments. The Committee's name were changed to the Avatar Program after many believed on the theoretical possibility of creating a Human/Na'vi hybrid. The purpose behind this was to create peaceful interactions between the Humans and the Na'vi.
To go about creating a successful Avatar, several phases were created in order to produce enough data to proceed with the creation of the first Avatar.
For the first phase, scientists were tasked with collecting information in regards to the Na'vi culture and way of life. All of which proved difficult due to the political situation at the time between the Na'vi and the RDA.
However, once the information was gathered, the RDA went ahead and decided to collect Na'vi specimens. The collecting of specimens was considered controversial at the time due to the fact that the RDA had to dedicate time for personnel to seek recently marked graves and exhume the bodies, both of which proved to be difficult tasks. The bodies were then shipped back to Hell's Gate for further study.
Initial dissection of Na’vi specimens found that although convergent evolution led to a surprising degree of external similarities on the Na'vi, their internal anatomy and metabolic processes were substantially different from that of humans. The Na’vi brain in particular, with its external neural queue and three-lobed cerebral structure, proved a daunting obstacle. Much of the information surrounding the biological makeup of the Na'vi were sent back to Earth via the Inter-System Laser Telecommunication.
Using research gained from experiments conducted on brain-wiped death row inmates, condemned criminals as well as primates, Dr. Lovecraft was able to demonstrate that full sensory bonding could be established between human twins and human-animal hybrids that shared common DeoxyriboNucleic Acid (DNA), and eventually human-Na’vi hybrids with "resonant" genetic DNA/NVTranscriptase blueprints.
Because the Na’vi cellular nucleus organelle does not use nucleic acids (DNA or RNA) to encode genetic information, producing a ‘translation table’ that matched a specific human's DNA to a Na'vi NVTranscriptase equivalent closely enough to allow a level of neural resonance strong enough for congruent mental communication to occur. This required many months of processing on powerful parallel zetaflop photonic computing arrays. The difficulty of which led to numerous failed experiments; some of which caused severe permanent psychological trauma to the volunteer subjects involved.
Eventually the Avatar Program succeeded in producing viable hybrids between two completely unrelated species – a considerable achievement since, as Dr Lovecraft famously remarked, humans are "far more closely related genetically to garden slugs than to Na’vi."
With the aid of thought amplification/transmission "link beds" as well as customized nanotech receiver/transmitter nodes grown into avatar brains from their earliest blastomere stage of development, human "drivers" can now operate their avatars at distances of tens of kilometers. These distances can be reduced in areas where the Pandoran magnetic fields are very strong, such as near the many flux vortices.
Originally part of RDA’s Na’vi outreach program instigated at the behest of Earth's government authorities, the Avatar Program has moved from being a poorly-defined xenobiological experiment controlled by Earth-based bureaucrats, ivory-tower academics, and populist politicians to become a tightly-managed engineering project incorporating the most advanced technology from RDA’s research and development laboratories.
The Program of TodayEdit
The Avatar Program of today is praised highly within the scientific community for their attemps of spearheading valuable research about the Na'vi. Many are recruited into the program with their education lying in many of the fields that are sought out by the program itself. Among them are Xenobiologist and Xenoanthrpologist. However, few are chosen to become drivers themselves.
Many more are hired on as technical advisors, researchers, scientists, and engineers to help improve the Program on Pandora.
Avatar drivers are selected on Earth from volunteer pools using incredibly stringent selection criteria, requiring high motor coordination skills, mental acuity and resistance to mental fatigue. The operators are physically screened and genome sequenced, and a number of tissue, blood and cell samples are taken. Overall, 99% of the trainee intake fail the initial testing. The successful creation of an avatar/operator pair is an extremely expensive process - costing upwards of 20 million dollars for each successful avatar build.
Once a suitable operator is found, avatar creation begins in earnest. RDA genetics labs create a hybrid embryo, which is a fused genetic product of the Na'vi and human operator DNA donors. Creating a viable embryo is the most complex part of the process and is prone to failure since the alien Na'vi genome is significantly different to human DNA. The composite eliminates defects, reduces the influence of individual Na'vi appearance traits and boosts compatibility with the human donor DNA sample.
From the hundreds grown specifically for each operator, many die before reaching the fifty-cell stage. However, some high-quality embryos survive into early organogenesis.
Once the operator and the avatar are sent to Pandora, the ground program on Pandora begins to shift drivers and prepares those who have succesfully completed their six year tenure will begin their leave back to Earth. This cycle helps keep a fresh set of driver's always available to the program on Pandora.
However, it is known that when Dr. Grace Augustine was alive, drivers who wish to stay behind for another six year's can send in a letter to Dr. Augustine to request a stay for another six year tenure. Some were accepted while others were denied.
When the operator arrives to Pandora, they are immediately injected into the new cycle of drivers and are given tasks. Most of these tasks are represented in the field of education that they have studied for. For the next six year's these drivers will operate their avatar's more often than being in existence of their own body.
Avatar Program on EarthEdit
- Main article: Avatar Training
While many believe that the program exists only on Pandora, it is known that the RDA have set up a headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia specifically built around the program itself. This is where researchers, bio-engineers, and scientists alike come together to improve on the program itself. Many more come here when the program seeks out potential drivers, leaving the recruits to learn, study, and comprehend the Na'vi culture.
Avatar Program on PandoraEdit
The program exists on Pandora primarily for the reason to bridge a gap between the Na'vi and the RDA. Scientific research and everything else comes second. As the RDA believes this can ease tension over time and move on with mining unobtanium in areas that the Na'vi hold dear.
Ironically, as the RDA continues to progress in mining, the relationship between the RDA and the Na'vi becomes more strained. Leaving the program in a void. Drivers themselves are finding it more difficult to interact with the Na'vi than usual.
For 15 years, the program was used primarily to gain the trust of the Na'vi. It did not mean the RDA didn't use the drivers for other reasons. Due to the alien world of Pandora, tasks that would be considered dangerous by human means were easily completed when a driver took on the tasks.
These operations are as followed:
- Human - Na'vi Relations:
Several drivers are tasked in educating the Na'vi while learning more about them. As time went on, this task proved more difficult. By the time Jake Sully had arrived in 2154, he was the only operator who had gained the trust of an entire Na'vi clan.
As of 2158, the relations between the RDA and the Na'vi are tied together by a fragile peace. Avatar's today are still being used to ease tensions when needed and help create relationships between both parties.
Since no SecOps officers were selected for the program, the RDA instead used the drivers for other means. This meant scouting out areas for mining, or spotting Na'vi tribes who may have been in the vicinity. As of 2158, such operations were deemed a 'threat' by the Na'vi. No longer are drivers allowed to conduct Recon operations out on the field.
Exploration was the first means by the program in collecting more data about Pandora and about the neighboring Na'vi tribes. Many area's beyond the RDA territory were sought out for possible outposts, places that were explored by Drivers themselves. As of 2158, exploration was brought down merely for scientific study outside of Hell's Gate.
Drivers were used for their impressive strength in the construction of several structures at key sites. Particularly at Hell's Gate. Today however, the drivers are used in carrying heavy equipment around Hell's Gate.