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The Tau Volantis Debris Field is an area filled with debris from destroyed vessels in the orbit of Tau Volantis. It is of substantial size and is surprisingly in a stable, low orbit.
The debris field has a number of damaged but relatively intact vessels in it, including the CMS Roanoke, the CMS Terra Nova, the CMS Greely and the CMS Brusilov. Besides spacecraft parts from destroyed vessels, the debris field also contains a number of functioning SK-1P stations, a number of flight recorder satellites, and a large number of active, homing mines.
The S.C.A.F flotilla arrived at Tau Volantis to investigate the source of the marker signal. Knowing that investigating a alien planet may result in infection by a contagion, the S.C.A.F took measures to prevent the spread of said contagion. One of the vectors of the infection would have been the vessels of the flotilla. In the event of a full scale, uncontrollable outbreak, the S.C.A.F determined that the most prudent course of action would be to disable or destroy the fleet.
With this in mind, the S.C.A.F deployed a battleship designed for mine warfare, which had the capability to destroy the entire fleet. Its duties included monitoring the rest of the fleet, presumably for contagion.
The plan to destroy the fleet was put into action after the declaration of Scenario Five, meaning an extinction level outbreak, and the battleship released all of its homing mines into the fleet, destroying most of the vessels and damaging the rest, rendering them useless as interstellar craft.
The mines also served to deter future visitors from nearing the infected fleet and acting as a vector for infection themselves.
Events of Dead Space 3Edit
Ellie Langford's ship presumably exits shockspace close to the debris field and falls victim to the mines, the group is forced to find refuge aboard a more intact vessel the CMS Roanoke.
The Eudora exists shockspace close to the debris field, and almost immediately is set upon by tens, if not hundreds of automated mines and severely damaged to the point of destruction. The crew of the Eudora then proceed to search the Roanoke for Ellie Langford's team and a way to proceed to the surface of the planet. Illustrating both the sheer number of mines that must have been deployed and the effectiveness of such small mines against ships.