A deep-space surveyor, the Aerie-class was developed by Starfleet at the request of the Federation Science Council. The design filled a niche for a small but well-equipped science vessel which could be loaned out to scientists and research groups for Federation-funded work - avoiding the reassignment of larger ships.

The atmosphere-capable Aerie features a Class 4 sensor array mounted on the nose of the ship, with supplementary arrays along the hull. Berthing and storage facilities can be removed in favour of additional laboratories, enabling the ship to be configured for missions of between five and twenty years. The class features eight cargo bay doors on the underside of the hull for easy loading.

One of the first of its class, the S.S. Raven NAR-32450 was assigned to Doctors Magnus and Erin Hansen for extended exobiology observation in the Delta Quadrant. The Hansens tracked and studied a Borg cube, but were assimilated in 2356.

These survey vessels will play a key part in the settlement of the Gamma Quadrant.

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